Title 45
Towns and Cities

Chapter 24.3
Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code

R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-24.3-12

§ 45-24.3-12. Rooming house.

(a) No person shall operate a rooming house, or occupy, or let to another for occupancy, any rooming house except in compliance with the provisions of §§ 45-24.3-6, 45-24.3-7, and 45-24.3-11. No owner or other person shall occupy, or let to another person, any vacant rooming unit unless it is clean, sanitary, and fit for human occupancy, and in compliance with all applicable requirements of this state and of the corporate unit.

(b) No person shall operate a rooming house unless he or she holds a valid rooming house permit issued by the appropriate authority in the name of the operator and for the specific dwelling or dwelling unit specified therein. The operator shall apply to the appropriate authority for the permit, which shall be issued only after it has been determined that the rooming house is in compliance with the applicable provisions of this chapter and with any rules and regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter. This permit must be displayed in a conspicuous place within the rooming house at all times. No permit is transferable. Every person holding a permit shall give notice in writing to the appropriate authority within twenty-four (24) hours after having sold, transferred, given away, or otherwise disposed of ownership of, interest in, or control of any rooming house. The notice shall include the name and address of the person succeeding to the ownership, or control, of the rooming house. Every rooming house permit expires at the end of the year of license following its date of issuance, unless sooner suspended or revoked as provided in this chapter.

(c) At least one flush water closet, lavatory basin, and bathtub or shower, properly connected to a water and sewer system or septic tank, approved by the health officer and in good working condition, must be supplied for each six (6) persons, or fraction thereof, residing within a rooming house, including members of the operator’s family wherever they share the use of these facilities, provided:

(1) That in a rooming house where rooms are let only to males, flush urinals may be substituted for not more than one-half (½) the required number of water closets;

(2) That all these facilities are so located within the dwelling to be reasonably accessible for a common hall or passageway to all persons sharing these facilities;

(3) That every lavatory basin and bathtub or shower is supplied with heated and unheated water under pressure at all times;

(4) That no facilities are located in a basement, except by written approval of the appropriate authority;

(5) That cooking in a rooming unit is prohibited unless utilities are installed in accordance with applicable local and state law;

(6) That communal cooking and dining facilities in a rooming house prohibited, except as approved by the enforcing officer in writing; and

(7) That rooming unit doors have operating locks to insure privacy.

(d) Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one person contain at least eighty (80) square feet of floor space, and every room occupied for sleeping by more than one person contains at least sixty (60) square feet of floor space for each occupant, and every room must also contain at least four (4) square feet of closet space per occupant with at least an unobstructed height of five feet (5′). If the room is lacking, in whole or in part, an amount of space, equal in square footage to the deficiency, be subtracted from the area of habitable room space used in determining permissible occupancy.

(e) Every rooming unit about the first floor must have immediate access to two (2) or more safe, unobstructed means of egress, appropriately marked, one of which will have a minimum head room of six feet (6′) six inches (6"), leading to a safe and open space at ground level, as required by the appropriate statutes, ordinances, and regulations of this state and of the corporate unit.

(f) Every provision of this chapter, which applies to rooming houses, also applies to hotels and motels, except to the extent that any provision may be found in conflict with the laws of this state or the corporate unit.

(g) Structurally sound handrails must be provided on any steps containing five (5) risers or more. If steps are not enclosed, handrails and balusters spaced no more than six inches (6") apart must be provided. Porches and/or balconies located more than three feet (3′) higher than the adjacent areas have structurally sound protective handrails thirty inches (30") to thirty-six inches (36") high, and, if unenclosed, balusters spaced no more than six inches (6") apart must also be provided. Alternate systems providing at least the same degree of safety, if approved by the appropriate authority, will be accepted.

(h) Access to or egress from each rooming unit must be provided without passing through any other rooming unit, dwelling unit, or bathroom.

History of Section.
P.L. 1970, ch. 325, § 1.