Arkansas Eviction Process

Arkansas Eviction Process

Last Updated: December 6, 2023 by Phil Ahn

From start to finish, an eviction in Arkansas can take around 2-4 weeks.  However, it can take longer depending on the reason for eviction and whether the tenant contests it.

Grounds for an Eviction in Arkansas

In Arkansas, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause.

Legal grounds to evict include:

  • Not paying rent on time
  • Staying after the lease expires
  • Violating lease terms
  • Committing illegal activity

Depending on the the grounds for eviction, the landlord needs to give proper notice and provide the tenant a chance to cure the violation. 

Grounds Notice Period Curable?
Nonpayment of Rent (Civil Action) 3 Days Maybe
Nonpayment of Rent (Criminal Action) 10 Days Maybe
End of Lease or No Lease 30 Days No
Lease Violations 14 Days Yes
Illegal Activity or Repeat Violations None No
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Even when there are legal grounds to evict, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.

Nonpayment of Rent

In Arkansas, a landlord can evict a tenant for failing to pay rent within the legal 5 calendar day grace period of the day rent is due. To do so, a landlord must first serve the tenant proper notice, which gives the tenant a chance to pay the balance due or move out:

  • To pursue a civil eviction action, landlords provide a 3 days’ notice to quit, which is for unpaid rent and possession of the premises.
  • To pursue a criminal eviction action, landlords serve a 10 days’ notice to quit, which is for unpaid rent, possession of the premises and criminal misdemeanor charges for tenants that refuse to move out.

If the tenant does not pay the balance due or move out by the end of the notice period, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

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Regardless of which eviction action is pursued, at the final adjudication, if the tenant does not owe rent or damages, the judge will issue a judgment in favor of the tenant.

End of Lease or No Lease

In Arkansas, a landlord can evict a tenant who does not have a lease (“tenant at will”) or has a lease that has terminated and continues to remain on the premises (“holdover tenant”).To do so, the landlord must first terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant proper notice.

If the tenant does not move out by the end of the notice period, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Lease Violations

In Arkansas, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their legal responsibilities under Arkansas landlord tenant law. To do so, the landlord must first serve the tenant a 14 days’ notice to comply or vacate, which gives the tenant a chance to fix the issue or move out.

Examples of lease violations include:

  • Failing to maintain the premises in a clean and sanitary manner
  • Causing deliberate or negligent damage to the premises
  • Disturbing the peace and enjoyment of other persons
  • Using plumbing, electrical or other fixtures in an unreasonable or unsafe manner
  • Allowing unauthorized occupants or pets to reside in the rental unit
  • Refusing to allow the landlord access to the rental unit

If the tenant does not fix the issue or move out by the end of the notice period, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Illegal Activity or Repeat Violations

In Arkansas, a landlord can evict a tenant for committing an illegal activity on the premises. Landlords are not required to provide tenants with prior written notice, instead they may immediately file an unlawful detainer action at the courthouse.

However, if they choose to do so, the landlord can serve the tenant an Immediate Notice to Vacate.

In Arkansas, illegal activity includes:

  • Engaging in or promoting prostitution
  • Selling alcohol illegally
  • Permitting a common nuisance (substantial interference with peaceful enjoyment)
  • Engaging in or promoting illegal gambling
  • Committing a criminal offense

If the tenant does not move out immediately, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Illegal Evictions in Arkansas

In Arkansas, there are a few different types of eviction actions that are illegal. If proven in court, the landlord could be liable for damages including attorney’s fees.

“Self-Help” Evictions

No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:

  • Changing the locks
  • Shutting off utilities
  • Removing tenant belongings

A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. In Arkansas, the only legally protected right against retaliation is reporting lead hazards.

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

In Arkansas, all evictions follow the same process:

  1. Landlord serves tenant with written notice of violations
  2. Landlord files a complaint with the court due to unresolved violations
  3. Tenant files an answer to the complaint
  4. Court holds hearing and issues a judgment
  5. Court issues writ of execution
  6. Possession of property is returned to landlord

Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant

A landlord can begin the eviction process in Arkansas by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered using any of the following methods:

  1. Handing the notice to the tenant in person
  2. Handing the notice to the tenant’s family member, over the age of eighteen (18) AND mailing the notice by certified or registered mail with a return receipt
  3. Mailing the notice by certified or registered mail with a return receipt
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Landlords should always keep the original signed notice and declaration of service as proof of proper service if the case proceeds to court.

3-Day Notice to Quit

In Arkansas, if a tenant is late on paying rent and the balance due is not paid within the 5 calendar day grace period (full or partial), the landlord can serve them a 3-Day Notice to Quit.

This civil eviction notice gives the tenant 3 judicial days (not counting weekends or legal holidays), to pay the balance due or move out.

A civil eviction action is for unpaid rent and possession of the premises.

10-Day Notice to Quit

In Arkansas, if a tenant is late on paying rent and the balance due is not paid within the 5 calendar day grace period (full or partial), the landlord can serve them a 10-Day Notice to Quit.

This criminal eviction notice gives the tenant 10 judicial days (not counting weekends or legal holidays), to pay the balance due or move out.

A criminal eviction action pursues unpaid rent, possession of the premises and criminal misdemeanor charges if the tenant refuses to move out.

30-Day Notice to Vacate

For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Arkansas, the landlord can serve them a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. This lease termination notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.

However, for tenants that don’t pay rent monthly, the amount of notice differs.

Lease Type Notice Amount
Week-to-Week 7 Days
Month-to-Month 30 Days
Quarter-to-Quarter No Statute
Year-to-Year 30 Days*

14-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate

In Arkansas, if a tenant commits a minor violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities, the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 14 calendar days to fix the issue or move out.

Immediate Notice to Vacate

In Arkansas, if a tenant commits an illegal activity, the landlord can serve them an Immediate Notice to Vacate, but prior written notice is not required by law.

Instead, a landlord can go directly to the courthouse and file an unlawful detainer action to begin eviction proceedings.

Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court

If the notice period ends and the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can file a complaint (or for criminal nonpayment of rent evictions, request an order for eviction) in the appropriate court. If there is a civil action, a landlord may file in Circuit Court or District Court.

The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by the sheriff, deputy, a person appointed by the court as a process server, or if an in-person delivery method is not possible, the documents may be sent via first-class mail or certified mail.

If the tenant is notified via first class mail, and an acknowledgment of service is not received within 20 days of the date the summons and complaint were mailed, the landlord must choose a different service method in order to proceed with the eviction process. A copy may also be affixed to a conspicuous part of the property.

Arkansas laws don’t specify how quickly the summons and complaint order to vacate must be served on the tenant after the landlord files the eviction action with the court.

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Filing of the lawsuit may take up to a few weeks depending on how quickly the landlord serves the documents after filing the eviction action with the court, and which type of service method is used.

Eviction Answer Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 3: Tenant Files an Answer

Tenants in Arkansas are required to file an answer with the court if they want to contest the eviction. If no answer is filed, the court will automatically rule in the landlord’s favor without holding an eviction hearing.

For criminal nonpayment of rent eviction cases, tenants will have 10 days to file their response after receiving the notice or order to vacate.

In all other eviction cases, including evictions for criminal activity, tenants will have 5 days to file their response with the court after receiving the summons and complaint.

Once the written response is received by the court, a hearing on the eviction will be scheduled.

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When tenants file their answer for criminal nonpayment of rent evictions, the answer must be filed with the court within 10 days of receiving the notice/order to vacate. For all other evictions, the tenant has 5 days to respond.

Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 4: Court Holds Hearing and Issues Judgment

If the tenant files their answer within 10 days of receiving the notice or order to vacate for criminal nonpayment of rent evictions, or within 5 days of receiving the complaint for all other evictions, then the clerk of the court will set a hearing date for the eviction proceeding.

If the tenant fails to appear for the hearing, it will not be continued, and the judge will rule in favor of the landlord, meaning the tenant will be evicted.

To prepare for the hearing, the landlord and tenant should bring the following:

  • A copy of the lease agreement
  • The notice to quit, comply or to pay
  • The complaint
  • Any evidence (i.e., photos of damage, billing statements, etc.) or witnesses to help prove the case in court)

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession will be issued, and the eviction process will proceed.

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A hearing will take between a few days to a few weeks, depending on whether or not the tenant files a response to the eviction action, whether it’s a criminal nonpayment of rent eviction or another type of eviction, and the court’s trial schedule.

Eviction Writ of Possession on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 5: Sheriff Posts Writ of Possession

In Arkansas, a writ of possession is a court ordered document that is served to a tenant by a sheriff that gives the tenant a final notice (24 hours) to move out before being forcibly removed. The writ must be issued within 3 days of judgement and is issued in response to a ruling made in favor of a landlord in an eviction case.

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The writ of possession must be issued within 3 days of the date judgment was entered in favor of the landlord.

Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 6: Sheriff Returns Property to Landlord

Finally, if the tenant remains on the property after 24 hours of receiving the writ of possession, the sheriff has the right to forcibly remove all locks and place the tenant’s personal property in a public warehouse or other storage area.

If necessary, the sheriff may physically restrain the tenants from interfering with the removal of the tenant’s property.

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The tenant has 24 hours once the writ of possession is given to the tenant or posted on the rental property to move out before they are forcibly removed by the sheriff.

Arkansas Eviction Process Timeline

In Arkansas, an eviction can be completed in as little as 2 to 4 weeks, but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction and whether the eviction is contested

Below are the parts of the Arkansas eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.

Step Estimated Time
Initial Notice Period 3-30 Calendar Days
Court Issuing Summons 1-3 Business Days
Court Serving Summons 1-3 Business Days
Tenant Response Period 5-10 Business Days
Court Ruling 1-7 Business Days
Court Serving Writ of Possession 1-3 Business Days
Final Notice Period 24 Hours

Flowchart of Arkansas Eviction Process

Arkansas Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

Arkansas Eviction Court Fees

The average cost of an eviction in Arkansas for all filing, court, and service fees is $263. However, the cost varies depending on the county and type of process server. Eviction lawsuits must be filed in District Court or Circuit Court.

Fee District/Circuit
Initial Court Filing $165+
Summons Service $30+
Writ of Possession Issuance $20
Writ of Possession Execution $20
Notice of Appeal (Optional) $150

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