Landlord and Tenant Rights

Updated February 2017   Fact Sheet PDF


Introduction

Arkansas law provides rights to both residential tenants and landlords. Arkansas laws on such issues apply only to private rental units, not government-subsidized housing.

 

Tenant Rights and Obligations

The landlord must provide a notice of at least one rental period before raising rent. This rule applies to both oral and written leases.

 

If you plan to sublease your apartment or house, you typically must obtain prior approval from the landlord and obtain written direction from your landlord stating the amount of rent that can be collected.

 

If you plan to move and have a written lease agreement, you must give notice according to the requirements stated in your lease. If you plan to move out and have an oral lease agreement, you must give one rental period's notice.

 

Landlord Rights

In Arkansas, a landlord can terminate an oral lease for any non-discriminatory reason (see the section titled “Discrimination” below). Even model tenants can be subject to a lease termination. The landlord must give one rental period's notice to terminate an oral lease. According the terms of a written lease, the written lease can only be terminated for a violation of the lease terms or at the end of the lease.

 

Whether the lease has been terminated voluntarily or involuntarily, Arkansas state law provides that any property the tenant leaves in the home or apartment is considered abandoned. This property can be disposed of by the landlord as the landlord sees fit without recourse by the tenant. Any property that the tenant leaves is subjected to a lien in favor of the landlord for the payment of any money agreed to be paid by the tenant.

 

Repair and Maintenance

When you rent a house or apartment, you usually agree to take it "as is." This means that the landlord is not required to provide additional maintenance to the home or apartment. There are, however, city building codes to protect your health and safety. If you have health or safety problems with your home, contact the city to find out whether the residence fully complies with those codes. If your landlord promises to make repairs, make sure the promise is in the written lease.

 

Even if a landlord does not make a promised repair, you should continue paying rent. You have some other options, such as going to small claims court, re-negotiating the lease agreement, moving, or seeking the advice of a private attorney. If you feel that your living conditions are an immediate health risk, contact the health inspector in your area.

 

Security Deposits

Security deposit laws in Arkansas give tenants added protection. These laws apply only to landlords who rent six or more dwellings.

 

If you are required to pay a security deposit, you cannot be charged more than two month's rent. For example, if your rent is $500 a month, a landlord cannot require a security deposit of more than $1,000.

 

When you move, the landlord must return your security deposit within 60 days. However, the landlord may deduct from your security deposit any past-due rent or any costs of repairing damages.

 

If the landlord deducts from your security deposit, they must provide a written, itemized list of those deductions within 60 days of you leaving the home.

 

A landlord may withhold the entire amount of the security deposit if damages or unpaid rent exceed the amount of the security deposit.

 

Evictions

Failure to pay your rent on time or at all, for any reason, is grounds for eviction. There are two types of eviction procedures a landlord can use:

  • an unlawful detainer (civil eviction)
  • a failure to vacate (criminal eviction)
 

If a landlord uses "unlawful detainer," they must give you three days’ written notice to leave the home or apartment. If you do not leave, the landlord can file an action for eviction.  You will be served a summons and complaint. You will then have five days to object to the eviction writing, where Saturday counts in the five days but Sunday and holidays do not. Any objection must be filed with the clerk of the court in which the eviction action was filed. You should send a copy of your objection to the landlord's lawyer. If you do not file an objection, you can be removed from the home by the county sheriff. If you do object, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the outcome of your case.

 

If a landlord uses the "failure to vacate" method of eviction, he or she must give you 10 days’ written notice. This method of eviction applies only to non-payment of rent. If you do not leave the home within 10 days, the prosecuting attorney can charge you with a misdemeanor. You would then be required to appear in court, where you could be fined up to $25 for each day that you remain in the home after you were given the 10-day notice to vacate.

 

Discrimination

Federal housing law protects tenants from unlawful discrimination in the sale or rental of residential property. The law bans residential discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, family status, or national origin. It also bars advertisements and publications that suggest preference, limitation, or discrimination (e.g., adults only in a particular complex or section). It forbids discrimination on the terms or conditions of the sale or rent of a home. Furthermore, it bans discriminating against any person because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, family status, or national origin in the use of facilities associated with the home. Finally, it forbids the discriminatory assignment of a person to a particular section of a complex or floor of a building.

 

For more information about fair housing, visit the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at hud.gov or the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission at fairhousing.arkansas.gov.

 

Tips

Always read the lease agreement before signing and keep a copy of the lease agreement for your files. While both oral and written lease agreements are binding, it is better to have a written agreement so there are no misunderstand­ings about the landlord's and tenant's responsibilities. Finally, always pay your rent on time, but never pay cash without getting a receipt (if the landlord will not give a receipt, do not pay—keep the money safe until the landlord will give a receipt).

 

For more information, visit the Arkansas Attorney General at ag.arkansas.gov

 

This fact sheet is a collaboration of the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc. These nonprofit organizations provide free legal assistance to eligible Arkansans who meet income, asset, and other guidelines. Legal assistance may also include advice and counsel, brief services, or full representation depending on the situation. For more information about civil legal aid in Arkansas, please visit arlegalservices.org. For information specific to Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., visit arlegalaid.org. Apply for services online or by calling 1-800-9-LAW-AID (1-800-952-9243).
The information and statements of law in this fact sheet should not be considered legal advice. This fact sheet is provided as a broad guide to help you understand how certain legal matters are handled in general. Courts may interpret the law differently. Before you take action, talk to an attorney and follow his or her advice. Always do what the court tells you to do.
Content provided by: Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc.

 

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