Title 45
Towns and Cities

Chapter 24.3
Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code

R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-24.3-10

§ 45-24.3-10. General requirements relating to the safe and sanitary construction and maintenance of parts of dwellings and dwelling units.

No person shall occupy, as owner or occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living, which does not comply with the following requirements:

(1) Every foundation, floor, roof, ceiling, and exterior and interior wall must be reasonably weathertight, watertight, and damp free, and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair. Floors, interior walls, and ceilings must be sound and in good repair. All exterior wood surfaces, other than decay resistant woods, must be protected from the elements and decay by paint or other protective covering or treatment. Potentially hazardous materials will not be used where readily accessible to children. Walls must be capable of affording privacy for the occupants. Every premise must be graded, drained, free of standing water, and maintained in a clean, sanitary, and safe condition.

(2) Potentially hazardous material on the interior surfaces of any dwelling unit, rooming house, rooming unit, or facility occupied by children is prohibited. The interior surfaces include, but are not limited to, window sills, window frames, doors, door frames, walls, ceilings, stair-rails and spindles, or other appurtenances.

(3) Lead-based substances are prohibited whenever circumstances present a clear and significant health risk to the occupants of the property, as defined by regulations of the department of health.

Where required because of the tenancy of an at-risk occupant, lead hazards must be mitigated as provided for in chapter 128.1 of title 42 or abated pursuant to chapter 24.6 of title 23.

(4) In each instance where there is reason to believe that lead-based substances are present, the enforcing officer shall either ascertain whether the lead hazard mitigation standard has been met, or confirm whether suspect substances are lead-based by arranging for a comprehensive environmental lead inspection which conforms to department of health regulations.

(5) In all instances where either compliance with mitigation standards cannot be confirmed by the enforcement officer by review of certifications for the same or where substances are confirmed to be lead-based by an environmental lead inspection, and there exists a lead exposure hazard, the enforcing officer shall identify necessary lead hazard reductions that must be taken pursuant to department of health regulations.

(6) In all instances where lead-based substances are identified on a dwelling, a dwelling unit, or premises occupied by a child suffering from “lead poisoning”, as defined in the Rhode Island Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, §§ 23-24.6-1 through 23-24.6-26, the enforcing officer shall consider these instances under “emergencies”, pursuant to § 45-24.3-21.

(7) During the portion of the year when there is a need for protection against mosquitoes, flies, and other flying insects, every door, opening directly from a dwelling unit to outside space, must have supplied properly fitting screens having at least sixteen (16) mesh and a self closing device; and every window, door, or other device with openings to outdoor space, used or intended to be used for ventilation, must be supplied with screens.

(8) Every window located at or near ground level, used or intended to be used for ventilation, and every other opening located at or near ground level which might provide an entry for rodents, must be supplied with adequate screens or other devices that will effectively prevent their entrance.

(9) Every dwelling or accessory structure and the premises upon which they are located shall be rodent-proofed and maintained to prevent rodents’ harborage.

(10) All openings in the exterior walls, foundations, basement, ground or first floors, and roofs which have a half-inch (1/2") diameter or more opening shall be rat-proofed in an approved manner if they are within forty-eight inches (48") of the existing exterior ground level immediately below those openings, or if they may be reached by rats from the ground by climbing unguarded pipes, wires, cornices, stairs, roofs, and other items as trees or vines or by burrowing.

(11) Skirting, lattice, or other non-rat-proofed enclosures displaying evidence of rat harborage under a porch or any portions of a building must be rat-proofed at all locations where evidence of burrowing or gnawing was found.

(12) In the event that occupancy usages would result in stacking or piling materials, the materials be arranged to prohibit the creation of a harborage area. This can be accomplished by orderly stacking and elevating so that there is a twelve inch (12") opening between the material and the ground level. No stacking or piling of material shall take place against the exterior walls of the structure.

(13) All doors, including swinging, sliding, and folding types, must be constructed so that the space between the lower edge of the door and the threshold does not exceed three-eighths inch (3/8"); provided, further, that the space between sections of folding and sliding doors when closed does not exceed three-eighths inch (3/8").

(14) Basement floors and/or the floors and areas in contact with the soil, and located at a maximum depth of four feet (4′) or less from the grade line, must be paved with concrete or other rat impervious material.

(15) Any materials used for rodent control must be acceptable to the appropriate authority.

(16) All fences provided by the owner or agent on the premises, and/or all fences erected or caused to be erected by an occupant, shall be constructed of manufactured metal fencing material, wood, masonry, or other inert material. These fences must be maintained in good condition. Wood materials shall be protected against decay by use of paint or other preservative. The permissible height and other characteristics of all fences must conform to the appropriate statutes, ordinances, and regulations of this state, and the corporate unit. Wherever any egress from the dwelling opens into the fenced area, there must be a means of egress from the premises to any public way adjacent to it.

(17) Accessory structures present or provided by the owner, agency, or tenant occupant on the premises must be structurally sound, and maintained in good repair and free from insects and rodents, or the structure shall be removed from the premises. The exterior of the structures shall be made weather resistant through the use of decay-resistant materials or the use of paint or other preservatives.

(18) Every plumbing fixture and all water and waste pipes must be properly installed and maintained in good working condition.

(19) No owner, operator, or occupant shall cause any service, facility, equipment, or utility, required under this chapter, to be removed from, or shut off from, or discontinued for any occupied dwelling or dwelling unit let or occupied by him or her, except for a temporary interruption that may be necessary while actual repairs or alterations are in process, or during temporary emergencies when discontinuance of service is approved by the appropriate authority.

(20) All construction and materials, ways and means of egress, and all installation and use of equipment must conform to applicable state and local laws dealing with fire protection.

History of Section.
P.L. 1970, ch. 325, § 1; P.L. 1972, ch. 118, § 4; P.L. 1979, ch. 77, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 355, § 2; P.L. 2002, ch. 187, § 5; P.L. 2002, ch. 188, § 5; P.L. 2009, ch. 310, § 56.