Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Arkansas and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for Arkansas
- Grounds for Eviction: Nonpayment of rent, end of lease term, lease agreement violations & committing crimes on-site
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: No notice required; landlord may proceed with filing Unlawful Detainer (civil action) or Failure to Vacate (criminal action)
- Notice Required to Terminate without Cause: 7- or 30-Day Notice to Quit for weekly & monthly tenants, respectively
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 14-Day Notice to Remedy
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 3 days, via Unconditional Notice to Quit
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Arkansas?
There is no set answer to the question regarding the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in the state of Arkansas. As in most states, the eviction process is made up of multiple steps. Ultimately, the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant is a product of the reason for eviction and the tenants willingness to fight against the eviction. In the state of Arkansas there is also a difference in the amount of time one can expect the eviction process to take depending upon whether the landlord chooses to take the civil court route of the criminal court route. Regardless of the route a landlord takes, the eviction process may be quite lengthy.
Reasons for Eviction in Arkansas
In the state of Arkansas, a landlord may evict a tenant for a variety of reasons (A.C.A. § 118-17-901). Reasons that a tenant may be evicted include:
- Failure to pay rent
- End of the term of the lease agreement
- Violation in terms of the lease or rental agreement
- Committing criminal acts on the rental property
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
In the state of Arkansas, a tenant is considered to have been given legal notice that the lease has been terminated if he/she has not paid the rent due to the landlord within five days of the due date. It is not necessary then for the landlord to provide a notice to a tenant delinquent in payment of rent prior to proceeding to the next step of the eviction process. The landlord may proceed through a civil process, referred to as Unlawful Detainer Method(A.C.A. § 18-17-701), by providing the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant continues to remain on the property after the date indicated on this notice, the landlord may pursue the issue further by filing for an eviction.
The tenant is considered to have been notified of the Notice to Quit at the moment the notice is mailed (A.C.A. § 18-17-303(2)(C). Once the tenant has remained on the property past the three days indicated in the Notice to Quit, the landlord has no further responsibility to inform the tenant of his/her intention to seek an eviction.
In the state of Arkansas, the landlord may choose a completely different avenue to evict a tenant. This route, referred to as the Failure to Vacate Method(A.C.A. § 18-16-101) is taken through the criminal court system. If the landlord prefers to use the Failure to Vacate Method, he/she will need to terminate the lease or rental agreement the day after rent is not paid. In accordance with this method, the landlord must then provide his/her tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Vacate. If the tenant remains of the property beyond the 10 days established in the notice, he/she may be found guilty of a misdemeanor. If convicted of this misdemeanor, the tenant will be fined $25 for each day the tenant remains on the rental property beyond the date established in the 10-Day Notice to Vacate.
If a tenant enters a plea of not guilty to a charge of Refusal to Vacate and continues to remain on the rental property, he/she must provide a deposit to the court in the amount of rent due. Rental payments will then continue to be paid to the court while proceedings are pending.
If the tenant is ultimately found not guilty of Refusal to Vacate, the rental payments made to the court will be returned to the tenant.
If the tenant is ultimately found guilty of Refusal to Vacate, the payments made to the court will be released to the landlord.
Any tenant found not guilty of Refusal to Vacate, who has not made the required payments to the court may be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
In the state of Arkansas, a landlord may not evict a tenant without cause if rent is paid unless there is no lease agreement. If a tenant is renting week-to-week or month-to-month, the landlord may discontinue the rental agreement by informing the tenant of their intention to discontinue rental of the property on the day that rent is due one week or month with the expectation that the tenant vacate the property by the next date that rent would normally be due. Therefore, an at-will tenant may expect one-week notice if renting week-to-week and a one-month notice if renting month-to-month.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
When a tenant has violated terms of the lease or rental agreement in the state of Arkansas, the landlord must provide a 14-Day Notice to Remedy to the tenant. If the tenant fails to make the necessary changes within the 14-day time frame, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing an Unlawful Detainer Action with the court. (A.C.A. § 18-17-701)
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
In the state of Arkansas, a landlord may evict a tenant for criminal acts that occurred on the rental property. Criminal acts for which a tenant can be evicted include:
- Illegal gambling on the rental property
- Acts of prostitution on the rental property
- Illegal sale of alcohol on the rental property
When a landlord seeks to evict a tenant for illegal behavior, he/she must first provide the tenant with an Unconditional Notice to Quit. This notice must be provided in writing. It will allow the tenant three days to vacate the rental property. If the tenant refuses to move at the end of the three-day period, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing an Unlawful Detainer Action with the court.
(A.C.A. § 18-60-304)
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?
In the state of Arkansas a landlord is required to provide notice to a tenant equal to the length of time between rental payments. A landlord is required to inform his/her tenant by the date rent is due one week or month prior to the date the tenant is expected to vacate the rental property. A week-to-week tenant therefore has a week’s notice and a month-to-month tenant has a month’s notice within which to move.
If the tenant remains on the property beyond the end of the notice, the landlord may proceed by filing for eviction with the court. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be expected to pay all reasonable attorney fees. The court may also award the landlord up to three months’ rent or twice the cost of damages sustained by the landlord. It should be noted that the court may reward the landlord the higher of these costs as well as attorney fees. (A.C.A. § 18-17-704)
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Arkansas?
In the state of Arkansas, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for exercising his/her legal rights. For example, a landlord may not seek to evict a tenant for complaining to a health or building inspector. It is also illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant on the basis of color, race, gender, religion, handicap, familial status or nation of origin.
Once an Unlawful Detainer Action is Filed
When an Unlawful Detainer Action is filed in an Arkansas court, the tenant has five days to respond in writing to the complaint. If the tenant fails to respond to the complaint, an Order of Eviction will be issued. If the tenant responds to the complaint in writing within 5 days, a hearing will be scheduled. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, an Order of Eviction will be issued. If the court rules in favor of the tenant, the case will be set for trial and the tenant will be allowed to remain on the rental property at least until the trial date.
Once Eviction Occurs
Once an Order of Eviction is issued, the sheriff will evict the tenant. However, the eviction is not necessarily the end of court proceedings. If the landlord seeks a judgement against the tenant, the court may allow him/her to claim tenant’s property and/or garnish wages.
Property left on the rental property is considered to be abandoned and may be disposed of at the discretion of the landlord. (A.C.A. § 18-16-108)
All property placed on the rental property by a tenant is subject to a lien in favor of the landlord and may be claimed by the landlord as payment for rent owed.
Make sure to read the Ark. Code Ann. §§ 18-60-304(3), 18-16-101 & 18-17-704 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.