Rhode Island Legislation Requiring Statewide Registration of Short-Term Rentals Becomes Law

As of January 4, 2022, short-term rental properties (defined as 30 days or less) listed for rent on third-party websites must be registered with the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. This follows the Rhode Island General Assembly's vote to override the governor’s earlier veto yesterday. The legislation, which originally passed the General Assembly on July 1, 2021, will require owners to register each such property and provide the following information to be stored on an online database by the Department of Business Regulation:

  1. 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. Phone number of the property owner and/or property manager
  3. Email address of the property owner and/or property manager
  4. Rental property address
  5. Number of rooms for rent at the property
  6. Whether the registrant rents or owns
  7. Intended use (entire space, private room, or shared space)

In terms of enforcement, the Department of Business Regulation will notify all hosting platforms that they must contact owners of short-term rentals to ensure compliance by June 1, 2022. Properties that are not registered by that date shall be removed from the website. For property owners who continue to list their short-term rentals on third-party websites without registering, there will be a $250 fine for the first 30 days, a $500 fine for between 31-60 days and a $1,000 fine for non-compliance that lasts more than 60 days. 

The Department of Business Regulation is explicitly authorized to enact further rules and regulations to enforce the law and “may charge a registration fee to property owners registering with the department pursuant to this section.”

Short-term vacation rentals have become a major industry in Rhode Island, particularly in the southern part of the state. Airbnb announced in December that their data show that since 2010, their hosts alone have earned $210 million on properties in Rhode Island.

For questions on complying with this new law, please contact firm partner Stephen MacGillivray.