How Long Do I Have to Keep This File and Other Burning Questions

Are paper files turning your office into a fire hazard?  Do you store documents in the trunk of your car or on random laptops and tablets?  Resolve to organize your files this year.

Rhode Island Commercial Licensing Regulations or other laws require principal brokers to make sure that their real estate licensees keep the following records for a minimum of three years.  However, a principal broker may choose to adopt an office policy to keep the records for a longer period of time, such as five years, so that the company can defend itself if a legal claim is filed.

  • Bank statements.
  • Canceled checks. [See regulations in link above for more details.]
  • Journal or check stubs.  [See regulations for more details.]
  • Copies of contracts, leases and management agreements.
  • Closing statements and property management statements.
  • Other documents. Invoices, bills, and contracts paid from the escrow account, and any documents not otherwise described herein necessary.
  • Lead disclosures.
  • It is also a good idea to keep real estate sales disclosures and Mandatory Real Estate Relationship Disclosures for three years.
  • Tax returns should be kept for a minimum of seven years.

Files can be stored electronically as long as the Department of Business Regulation can inspect your records on demand.  The principal broker is responsible for setting policy, so make sure to check with him or her before shredding paper files.

Questions?  Contact Monica Staaf, RIAR General Counsel, at or 401-432-6945.

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