Short-Term Rentals Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated 9/30/2022

 

Registration Requirements

Registration is required by January 1, 2023. However, you may register starting now at your convenience. 

R.I. General Law § 42-63.1-14(b) defines short-term rental as “a person, firm, or corporation's utilization, for transient lodging accommodations, not to exceed thirty (30) nights at a time.” 

R.I. General Law § 42-63.1-2(5) defines a hosting platform as “any electronic or operating system in which a person or entity provides a means through which an owner may offer a residential unit for "tourist or transient" use. This service is usually, though not necessarily, provided through an online or web-based system which generally allows an owner to advertise the residential unit through a hosted website and provides a means for a person or entity to arrange tourist or transient use in exchange for payment, whether the person or entity pays rent directly to the owner or to the hosting platform.” This includes websites like AirBnB and Vrbo as well as real estate brokerage websites.  

If a website operated by a property manager, real estate licensee or rental agent falls within this definition and the firm is listing properties that it does not own on the website, then the properties must be registered with the Department by the property owner or lessee. 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14, enacted by the Legislature, required the Department to implement a statewide registration for short term rentals. 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14, enacted by the Legislature, required the Department to implement a statewide registration for short term rentals. This statute does not address whether the municipalities will continue to have their own registration systems. If the municipality in which the short-term rental is located has its own registration requirement, then you must register both with the state and the municipality.  

The cost to register your short-term rental with the Department of Business Regulation is $50.   

The registration will be good for two (2) calendar years upon issuance or renewal.  

For example, a registration issued on Jan. 1, 2023, will expire on Dec. 31, 2025. 

  • Owner-occupied short-term rentals of rooms or shared spaces within the same owner-occupied unit only require one registration per unit.  

    • Example – owner occupied single-family house renting individual rooms on separate listings – one registration is required.  

  • Rentals of entire spaces require one registration per unit. 

    • Three-family house with three apartments being advertised and entire spaces for short-term rental – each apartment in the building advertised for short-term rental needs its own registration.  

Pursuant to R.I. General Law § 42-63.1-14(i), you will be subject to civil penalties in the following amounts:  

  1. Two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for the first thirty (30) days of non-compliance; 
  2. Five hundred dollars ($500) for between thirty-one (31) and sixty (60) days of non-compliance; and 
  3. One thousand dollars ($1,000) for more than sixty (60) days of non-compliance. 

No. Registrations are per property based upon the address and the person registering the property with the Department as a short-term rental. Any change in registrant and/or property location would require the termination of the first registration and the application for a new registration for the new registrant/location. 

The application will require the information listed in the statute at R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14(d). Statutory provisions are not repeated in the regulation. Here is a quotation of those statutory requirements for the registration.   

  1. The principal place of business of the owner, or if outside the state, the agent for service of process or property manager for the owner; 
  2. The phone number of the owner of the property and/or property manager; 
  3. The email address of the property owner and/or property manager; 
  4. The address of the rental property; 
  5. The number of rooms for rent at the property; 
  6. Whether the registrant rents or owns; and 
  7. Intended use (entire space, private room or shared space). 

No. Neither R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14 nor the regulation contain any insurance requirement.    

No. Applicants who fill out all required fields and pay the fee will be issued a registration. 

Only properties that are both rented for 30 nights or less and advertised on websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, Expedia, etc. and/or real estate brokerage websites need to register as a short-term rental. 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14 requires all short-term rentals to be registered. The long-term tenant/lessee or the property owner advertising the property is required to register the property with the Department. Whether or not a property owner allows its long-term tenant/lessee to sublet a property as a short-term rental is a private matter between the property owner and the lessee.  

The property owner or lessee is responsible for the registration.   

No. R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14 does not provide for any exceptions or exemptions to the registration requirement. Any property falling under the definition of short-term rental (any period up to and including 30 nights) advertised on a 3rd party hosting platform must register with the Department. Should the legislature hereafter adopt exceptions those exceptions will be implemented by the Department. 

“Registrant” is defined as the Owner registering a property with the Department as required by R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14. The Act defines “owner” as property owner or lessee. Therefore, the property manager, rental agent or third party is not required to register the property. However, third-party hosting platforms and real estate licensees should notify their clients about the state’s short-term rental registration requirements. 

 

Problems with a Short-Term Rental 

Please refer to your reservation completed with the third-party hosting platform/real estate brokerage to inquire as to how to lodge a complaint or resolve a problem. 

Contact the local police department’s non-emergency line to lodge a noise complaint.  

For a list of cities and towns, including their websites, please visit this website: https://www.ri.gov/towns/  

 

Information about a Particular Property 

Yes. In accordance with the statutory requirement in R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-63.1-14(h), the Department will provide access to the registration database on its website. Only the property address and registration status will be available in the public database. 

Please visit the tax assessor’s website of the municipality in which the rental is located.  

For a list of cities and towns, including their websites, please visit this website: https://www.ri.gov/towns/ 

 

Municipal Regulation and Registration Requirements 

The state registration requirement is independent of any municipal short-term rental registration requirements. State registration is required irrespective of whether a municipality requires short-term rental registration or fees. 

Yes, if the municipality in which the short-term rental is located has its own registration requirement.  

The Department does not have jurisdiction over this. If you have questions or concerns regarding a municipality’s enforcement or application of its short-term rental ordinances or state laws you should reach out to your municipal officials, including but not limited to the City/Town Solicitor, the Clerk’s Office, or the Office of the Mayor or Town Manager. 

The state registration requirement is independent of any municipal short-term rental registration requirements. Municipalities may still require registration and impose short-term rental requirements as may be permitted by law. 

No. The registration fees will be deposited into the state general fund.  

This registration requirement does not affect whether short-term rentals are allowed or disallowed in any municipality, rather it simply requires them to be registered with the state. 

The Department will handle potential violations in accordance with § 4.6 of the regulation and the Administrative Procedures Act. 

Municipalities can access the Department’s database on its website at any time. 

 

Taxation of Short-Term Rentals 

Please refer to the Division of Taxation’s FAQs, available here.