Tenant/Landlord Law

Arkansas Tenant and Landlord Rights

Tenants have very few rights under current Arkansas law. The following information will tell you what limited rights you do have. This information applies only to privately owned rental units and not to government subsidized housing. When you rent a house or apartment, you usually agree to take it “as is”. This means that the landlord does not have to provide additional maintenance to the dwelling. There are, however, city building codes to protect your health and safety. If you have health or safety problems with your dwelling, contact the City Housing Inspector to find out if your landlord has violated housing codes.

If you are considering renting property in the state of Arkansas or if you currently live in rental property in Arkansas, it may be a good idea to keep current on the eviction laws of the state. Arkansas, like every other United State has its own process of eviction laws that outline the  proper procedure a landlord must go through in order to evict a tenant. Understanding these laws can help in the event of a court hearing.

The landlord may not have to make repairs to your dwelling unless there is an agreement to do so, either written or oral, that can be proven. Such agreements should be made in writing.

If a landlord does not live up to his end of the bargain or do what he says he will do, the tenant should still pay rent. Tenants may have some recourse such as going to small claims court, renegotiating the terms of your lease agreement, moving or seeking the advice of a private attorney.

Both oral and written lease agreements are binding. In most cases it is better to have a written agreement so there are no misunderstandings about each party’s responsibilities.

  • If you plan to move and have an oral lease agreement, you must give one rental period’s notice, before the next rent is due.
  • If you plan to move and have a written lease agreement, you must give notice according to the provisions of your lease.
  • If you plan to sublease your apartment or house, you must settle with the landlord, and obtain written directions from him or her stating the amount of rent that can be collected.
  • If a landlord is going to raise your rent, he must give you one rental period’s notice in writing for an oral lease agreement or abide by the terms of a written lease.

A security deposit law gives tenants added protection when leasing a residential dwelling. This law applies only to landlords who rent six or more dwellings and contains the following provisions: 

  • If you are required to pay a security deposit, you cannot be charged in excess of two months rent. For example, if your rent is $200 a month, a landlord cannot require a security deposit of more than $400.
  • When you move, the landlord must return your security deposit within 30 days. The landlord may, however, deduct from the security deposit any damages made to the dwelling or any past due rent.
  • If the landlord deducts from your security deposit an amount to cover damages or unpaid rent, he must give you a written, itemized list of the charges withheld within 30 days of the time you vacate.
  • A landlord may withhold the entire amount of the security deposit for damages or unpaid rent. He must give you a written, itemized list of the charges withheld within thirty (30) days of the time you vacate.

In Arkansas, a landlord may give notice of termination for any reason. Even if you are a model tenant—quiet, paying your rent on time and keeping your apartment clean—your landlord can refuse to renew your lease. He must give you one rental period’s notice if you have an oral lease, or give notice according to the terms of the written lease if you have one. (The only exception is for non-payment of rent in which case eviction procedures may take place.)

Failure to pay rent or to pay rent on time, for any reason, is grounds for eviction. 

The state of Arkansas allows the landlord the right not to renew any tenants lease regardless of whether the tenant adheres to all the stipulations of the lease. The landlord must give the tenant one period of rental time notice before enforcing an eviction if there is an oral lease. If there is a written lease, the period of time the landlord must give the tenant should be clearly stated. The only exception to this is failure to pay rent.

No matter the reason, the failure of a tenant to pay rent is grounds for a landlord to begin the eviction process in Arkansas. A landlord may pursue two types of evictions depending on the circumstances, a civil eviction (“unlawful detainer”) or a criminal eviction (“failure to vacate”).

The “unlawful detainer” method states that a landlord must provide the tenant with a written notice that state the tenant has (3) three days in which to vacate the property. If the tenant refuses to leave the premises, the landlord may then sue the tenant in court by filing a complaint with the court. Once a tenant receives a summons that states the landlord has filed a complaint against them, the tenant then has (5) five days in which to object to the eviction. This objection must be done in writing. If a tenant does not object within (5) five days in writing to the court, the sheriff may then remove the tenant from the dwelling. If a tenant does file a written objection with the court, a formal hearing is then held to determine the outcome of the case.

 A “failure to vacate” eviction is when a landlord must provide the tenant a written notice that gives the tenant (10) ten days to vacate the property. This kind of eviction in done when a tenant neglects to pay rental monies due to the landlord. If a tenant fails to leave the property after the (10) ten days, the tenant may be charge with a misdemeanor, must appear in court and could possibly be charged a fine of as much as $25 per each day after the (10) ten days stated in the eviction notice.

As in most states, Arkansas  landlords are not permitted to change the locks on your doors, move your furniture out, turn off your utilities or use any other “self-help” method of eviction or harassment to get you to move.

Additionally, Arkansas landlord/tenant law states that upon the voluntary or involuntary termination of any lease agreement, all property left in the dwelling by the tenant will be considered abandoned, and may be disposed of by the landlord as the landlord sees fit and without recourse by the tenant. All property left on the premises by the tenant is subjected to a lien in favor of the landlord for the payment of all sums agreed to be paid by the tenant.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it is important to know your rights. Since the laws vary from state to state, understanding your rights is important.