Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Arkansas can take around six to eight weeks, depending on the type of eviction and whether tenants file an answer with the court. If tenants request a jury trial, the process can take longer (read more).
Introduction. Arkansas evictions are governed under the Arkansas Code. Landlords must follow these rules and regulations for legal evictions. Landlords must also have sufficient evidence and legal cause to pursue an eviction case. If there is no cause for eviction, the landlord must wait until the tenancy has ended. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Arkansas.
Step 1: Notice is Posted
Landlords in Arkansas can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:
- Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, landlords can pursue a criminal or civil eviction action after appropriate notice has been given to the tenant.
- Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue or violation before moving forward with the eviction process.
- No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy as long as proper notice is given.
- Illegal Activity – If a tenant or any other occupant of the rental unit has engaged in illegal activity, prior written notice is not required to pursue an eviction action.
- Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
- Evicting a Squatter If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when initially moving in, does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then a landlord/tenant relationship may not be established. As a result, the normal eviction process may not be applicable (read more).
Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.
Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent
A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.
According to Arkansas law, rent is considered late if it’s not paid within five days of the due date.
Once rent is past due, the landlord has two options:
- File a civil lawsuit against the tenant (also known as an unlawful detainer); or
- File a criminal lawsuit against the tenant (also known as failure to vacate method).
For a civil action, the landlord must provide tenants with a 3-Day Notice to Quit if the landlord wants to file an eviction action with the court. This notice gives the tenant three days to move out of the rental unit.
For a criminal action, the landlord must provide tenants with a 10-Day Notice to Quit giving the tenant 10 days to move out of the rental unit.. If the tenant remains on the premises, the tenant shall be fined up to $25 per day until the premises is vacated.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement
A tenant can be evicted in Arkansas if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease/rental agreement.
Arkansas landlords must provide tenants with a 14-Day Notice to Comply, giving tenants 14 days to correct the issue in order to avoid eviction.
Typical lease violations under this category could include things like damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy, and material health/safety violations.
Note that illegal activity is not included in this category.
If the tenant fails to correct the issue by the deadline/remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease
In the state of Arkansas, if tenants “holdover,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.
Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.
The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.
- Week-to-Week – If rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process and file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant.
Eviction Process for Illegal Activity
Arkansas landlords are not required to provide tenants who are involved in illegal activity with written notice prior to beginning the eviction process.
In Arkansas, illegal activity includes:
- Illegal gambling
- Illegal sale of alcohol
- Criminal offenses/nuisances
For this type of eviction, the landlord may proceed directly to Step 2 below without giving tenants any written notice to begin the eviction process, which is also known as an unconditional quit notice. The tenancy will end immediately, and the tenant shall leave the premises within three days. If the tenant does not move out of the premises, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant.
Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served
As the next step in the eviction process, Arkansas landlords must file a complaint (or for criminal nonpayment of rent evictions, request an order for eviction) in the appropriate court. This costs $65 in filing fees statewide. If there is a civil action, a landlord may file in Circuit Court or District Court (and if permitted by rule, Supreme Court).
The summons and complaint or order to vacate 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.
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.
A few days 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.
Step 3: Answer is Filed
Tenants in Arkansas are required to file an answer with the court if they want to contest the eviction.
This means that if tenants don’t believe they should be evicted, they must file a written response with the court, or the judicial officer 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/order to vacate.
In all other eviction cases, including evictions for criminal activity, tenants will have five 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.
5-10 days. 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 five days to respond.
Step 4: Court Hearing and Judgment
If the tenant files their answer within 10 days of receiving the notice/order to vacate for criminal nonpayment of rent evictions, or within five 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.
If either the landlord or tenant requests a jury trial, this will add more time to the process.
Tenants may file an appeal, but that won’t automatically stop the eviction, and the tenant may still have to move out of the rental unit while the appeal is pending. At the time of the appeal, the tenant shall give an appeal bond for an amount that is determined by the court. The appeal shall be filed within five days after service of notice of appeal.
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession will be issued, and the eviction process will proceed.
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.
Step 5: Writ of Possession Is Issued
The writ of possession/eviction is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit before the sheriff returns to the property to forcibly remove them.
A writ of possession/eviction will be issued within three days of the date the judgment for possession was entered in favor of the landlord.
If the tenant remains in the rental unit after the writ is issued, possession of the rental unit will be forcibly returned to the landlord.
3 days. The writ of possession/eviction must be issued within 3 days of the date judgment was entered in favor of the landlord.
Step 6: Possession of Property is Returned
Tenants must move out of the rental unit within 24 hours of receiving the writ of possession, or the sheriff will return and forcibly remove them from the rental unit.
24 hours. The tenant has 24 hours once the writ of possession is given to the tenant/posted on the rental property to move out before they are forcibly removed by the sheriff.
Arkansas Eviction Process Timeline
Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Arkansas. With that being said, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.
- Initial Notice Period – Between 3 and 30 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
- Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – A few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of service.
- Answer is Filed – 5-10 days, depending on whether it’s a criminal nonpayment of rent eviction or any other type of eviction.
- Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – A few days to a few weeks, depending on whether an answer was filed and the type of eviction.
- Issuance of Writ of Possession – Within 3 days of the date a judgment is issued in favor of the landlord.
- Return of Possession – 24 hours after the writ is posted on the rental property/given to the tenant.
Tenant Eviction Defenses. Even if a landlord has a valid legal reason to evict a tenant, the tenant has the right to fight the eviction as the tenant may have a valid legal defense (i.e. discrimination, forceful removal by landlord, etc.).
Removal of the Tenant. The only legal action a landlord can do to remove a tenant from a rental unit is by winning an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. It is important to note that, even if the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant can only be removed by law enforcement with a court order
Landlord Remedies. Depending on the situation, court ruling, and other aspects, below is a list of possible remedies available to the landlord:
- Noncompliance with Rental Agreement. The landlord may recover reasonable attorney’s fees, unpaid rent, damages.
- Periodic Tenancy Holdover Remedy: The landlord may recover not more than three months periodic rent or twice the actual damages caused by the tenant (whichever is greater).
- Noncompliance Affecting Health and Safety. The tenant shall reimburse the landlord for any damaged items, cleaning fees, or cost of work.
- Unpaid Rent. The tenant shall pay the landlord all unpaid rent
- Abuse of Access. The landlord shall recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
Flowchart of Arkansas Eviction Process
For additional questions about the eviction process in Arkansas, please refer to the official legislation, Arkansas Statutes §§18-60-301 to 18-60-312, §§18-17-901 to 18-17-913, §§18-16-101 to 18-16-509, §§18-17-701 to 18-17-707, and the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure,Rule 4, for more information.