Common interest communities that are regulated by homeowners associations (HOAs) enjoy a number of benefits. By ensuring that there is uniformity and that a certain quality of life is maintained, HOAs help to maintain property values.

However, to ensure that these associations are performing their functions correctly, it's important that they adhere to state laws and regulations. This begins with a good understanding of the applicable legislation.

This article will delve into these laws, providing an overview of the relevant legislation.

Understanding Homeowners Associations

A homeowners association is a private organization that is dedicated to meeting the needs of a community, condominium, or apartment complex. It is responsible for maintaining common elements and shared spaces and creates and enforces its own rules and bylaws.

These non-government entities are built on local, state, and federal laws. Each HOA has its own set of governing documents, which outline its HOA rules and regulations.

An Overview of Rhode Island General Laws That Pertain to Homeowners Associations

The statutes mentioned below, which can be found in the Rhode Island General Laws, apply to HOAs in the state.

It's important to note that it would not be possible for us to mention all the laws that might apply to your community association, so you will need to do additional research or contact a legal advisor for assistance. You can find links to these laws in the resources section at the end of this article.

Rhode Island Condominium Act

The Rhode Island Condominium Act was designed to set up a legal framework for the formation, modification, and dissolution of condominiums, as well as for condominium administration and purchaser protection.

It is applicable to all condos founded after the first of July 1982 and to all condominium associations created prior to that date that change the instruments, bringing the association under the provisions of these statutes.

Rhode Island Condominium Ownership Act

This is an older act that establishes a general framework for the establishment, administration, and operations of condominiums established prior to the first of July 1982. By filing a declaration with the local register of deeds office, a condominium association agrees to the terms of this section of the law.

Rhode Island Nonprofit Corporation Act

Most homeowners associations in the state are registered as nonprofit corporations and are subject to the terms of the Rhode Island Nonprofit Corporation Act.

It oversees the processes and organizational structure of these associations. Suppose you would like to learn more about the corporate status of a Rhode Island homeowners association. In that case, you can go to the Secretary of State's website.

Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices Act

In addition to the federal Fair Housing Act, homeowner associations in Rhode Island are also prohibited from discrimination at the state level. This legislation was enacted to protect the rights of Rhode Island residents and make housing discrimination based on the factors mentioned below illegal.  

  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Color
  • Sexual orientation
  • Military status
  • Age
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Victims of domestic abuse
  • Sex
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Familial status
  • Marital status

Rhode Island Solar Easements Law

This law states that any unit owner may offer a signed solar easement to another person to enable adequate exposure to a solar energy setup.

Fines, Liens, and Foreclosures

In Rhode Island, a homeowners association may penalize a property owner for failing to pay their assessments on time and for breaking its bylaws. The HOA applies an interest rate of no more than 21 percent to any overdue fees for common expenses.

Before an HOA can assess fines for any breach of their rules and regulations, community associations must give notice to the owner and a chance for a hearing. Keep in mind that daily fines imposed and total amounts that may be charged over time are capped in the state.

Residents may be fined up to $100 per day for residential condominiums and $500 per day for commercial condominiums. A unit owner's total fine is limited to $500 for residential condominiums or $1,000 for commercial condominiums.

More information about such fines would typically be included in the governing documents.

About DoorLoop's HOA Tools

Homeowners associations are governed by a myriad of laws, and to truly ensure that your HOA meets these standards, you need to have access to the right tools.

However, the truth is that property management software can be extremely expensive, which is why many avoid it and try to manage their day-to-day operations on their own.

Well, with DoorLoop, this simply isn't the case. You get a comprehensive set of intuitive tools designed to meet your needs without the high price tag. What's more, you can schedule a FREE demo to test it out for yourself before investing!

Our HOA management software features an easy-to-use platform, powerful accounting tools, a communication portal, the ability to accept and track payments, and so much more.

To learn more, please contact us today!

The Bottom Line

Now that you have a good idea of which acts oversee homeowners and condominium associations in Rhode Island, it's time to implement these laws in your own HOA. To learn more about our intuitive HOA management tools or schedule your free demo, get in touch with DoorLoop!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which government agencies do I need to know about as an HOA manager?

Here are a few government agencies and resources you might want to make a note of:

2. Why should I know about Rhode Island HOA laws?

It's important for board members, managers, and executives to know about the state laws in place to ensure that their HOA is compliant. This is important for avoiding penalties and attorney's fees and can help to avoid the repercussions of a private lawsuit.

3. What things can an HOA not fine homeowners for in Rhode Island?

Community associations are not allowed to ban the display of the US national flag, provided this is done in accordance with federal laws. Furthermore, no HOA may ban the installation of satellite dishes, antennas, and solar energy systems.

However, these organizations are allowed to include reasonable guidelines on how these elements are to be placed to ensure that aesthetic standards are met.

4. Is HOA membership mandatory in Rhode Island?

Yes. If someone buys a house in an area regulated by an HOA, he or she will have no other option than to join.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!