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Can my landlord charge a garbage/water fee?

The following is an actual conversation between an Uprise RI user and our Helping Hand chat assistant. The most helpful conversations, as determined by our editors, will be showcased on our homepage, with personally identifying details removed when applicable.

Posted April 29, 2024

User: Can my landlord charge [a] garbage fee

The Helping Hand: In Rhode Island, the terms of your rental agreement typically outline who is responsible for utility fees, including garbage collection. If your lease specifies that the landlord covers garbage fees, they should not charge you separately. However, if the lease states that tenants are responsible for garbage fees, or if this is a common practice in your type of rental unit, then it may be permissible for your landlord to charge you.

Could you let me know what is stated in your lease regarding garbage fees, or if there have been any agreements made between you and your landlord about this? This information will help me provide you with more specific advice.

User: No lease.

The Helping Hand: If you do not have a written lease agreement, it is likely that you are considered a month-to-month tenant under Rhode Island law. In this case, unless there is an established understanding or local ordinance that specifies otherwise, the landlord may be able to pass on the garbage fee to you. However, this should be communicated clearly and not be an unexpected charge.

As a month-to-month tenant, you should receive a 30-day notice for any changes in the terms of your tenancy, including additional fees. If this charge came as a surprise without proper notice, you may have grounds to dispute it.

It’s also worth checking with your local municipality to see if there are any regulations regarding garbage fees for renters. If you need further assistance, you might consider contacting Rhode Island Legal Services or a local tenants’ rights group for guidance on your specific situation.

Would you like contact information for Rhode Island Legal Services or guidance on how to proceed with this issue?

User: Yes

The Helping Hand: Rhode Island Legal Services provides free legal assistance to low-income individuals and might be able to help you with your situation regarding the garbage fee. Here is their contact information:

Rhode Island Legal Services 56 Pine Street, Suite 400 Providence, RI 02903 Phone: (401) 274-2652 Toll-Free: 1-800-662-5034 Website:

You can reach out to them to explain your situation and seek advice on how to proceed. They may offer guidance on whether your landlord’s actions are permissible and what steps you can take.

Would you like more information on tenant rights or assistance with anything else?

User: Can my landlord charge me water fee

The Helping Hand: In Rhode Island, whether a landlord can charge a tenant for water depends on the terms of the lease agreement. If you have a written lease, it should specify who is responsible for utilities, including the water bill. If the lease states that the tenant is responsible for water charges, then the landlord can charge you for it.

In the absence of a written lease, as a month-to-month tenant, you generally would not be responsible for the water bill unless there was a verbal agreement or it is customary for tenants in your type of rental unit to pay for water.

It’s also important to note that landlords must provide a 30-day notice before changing the terms of a month-to-month tenancy, which would include adding a new charge for utilities like water.

If you’re facing this issue and there’s no clear agreement, it might be helpful to discuss this with your landlord or seek legal advice. Would you like information on how to contact a local tenant’s rights organization or legal services for further assistance?

User: [Exited]

The Helping Hand is a free service provided by Uprise RI for Rhode Islanders. It uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology and vast training on RI landlord/tenant law and consumer protection to provide helpful tips and resources specific to the user's needs, at no charge. Help support The Helping Hand with a donation of any kind.