In Arkansas, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Arkansas varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Arkansas law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Arkansas
Landlord Responsibilities. Landlords in Arkansas are not specifically responsible for making any type of repair to their rented units. Specifically, they provide their units to tenants “as-is.” As such, they are only required to make repairs in accordance with the terms of their lease.
This means that any and all timeframes for repairs must also be explicitly set out in the lease’s terms. Otherwise, landlords are free to make repairs at their discretion due to the absence of a state-wide standard.
Tenant Responsibilities. Unless stated otherwise in the lease agreement, tenants in Arkansas are responsible for making any and all repairs to their rented unit on their own. Tenants may not deduct the cost of these repairs from their rent, nor can they withhold rent when their landlord fails to make an agreed upon repair.
Applicability. Arkansas’ warranty of habitability only applies to single and multi-level dwellings. Also, these statutory standards are applied to condos, but not mobile homes. Specific applicability may change suddenly, also, as a result of Arkansas’ Landlord Tenant Act being declared unconstitutional (in part) in March 2019.
Evictions in Arkansas
In Arkansas, landlords are empowered to evict their tenants for any of the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent – Landlords in Arkansas may initiate eviction as soon as 5 days after a tenant misses a rent payment. This may include rent grace periods, though Arkansas’ laws do not specifically address this type of per-lease procedure.
- Violation of lease terms – A landlord in Arkansas may evict a tenant for any violation of their agreed-to lease terms. To initiate this process, the landlord must provide a 14-day notice to remedy. After this time period elapses without adequate remedy, then the landlord may peruse legal eviction. Failure to vacate the premises after the conclusion of a lease may be considered a violation in this domain.
- Illegal Acts – Illegal acts that warrant eviction in Arkansas include gambling, prostitution, and the illegal sale of alcohol. If one of these acts occurs, the landlord may serve the applicable tenant with an Unconditional Notice to Quit in writing. If this notice is not addressed, the landlord may proceed with eviction within 3 days.
After an applicable notice period elapses, a landlord may pursue up one of two different methods for achieving legal eviction in Arkansas. First, they may file an Unlawful Detainer Action in order to bring civil charges against the negligent tenant. Alternatively, they may file a Failure to Vacate Motion to initiate criminal charges against the tenant.
Evictions without a lease. Arkansas requires landlords to provide notice of impending eviction at the same rate of time as their regular rental payment scheme. So, week-to-week renters are given 1 weeks’ notice, while month-to-month renters are given 1 month’s notice.
Illegal Evictions. Landlords cannot seek out the eviction of their tenants based upon retaliation. This includes a prohibition on retaliatory evictions resulting from the tenant reporting a health or safety code violation on the premises. Similarly, a tenant cannot be evicted for discriminatory reasons, including on the basis of color, race, gender, religion, handicap, familial status, or nation of origin.
Arkansas also provides some protections against unlawful eviction when the tenant in question is a victim of domestic violence.
Security Deposits in Arkansas
In Arkansas, tenant security deposits are governed by the following statutory standards:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – The full value of a security deposit in Arkansas cannot exceed the value of 2 month’s rent. Arkansas’ current laws do not address if this includes supplementary fees, such as those associated with pet ownership.
- Time Limit for Return – Landlords in Arkansas must return their held deposits to their tenants within 60 days of the end of their mutual lease agreement. If deductions are made, this return must include a written notice explaining the reasons for said deductions. After 180 days, though, a landlord may lawfully claim any leftover deposits as their own.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – In cases where a security deposit is not returned in the requisite time period, affected tenants may seek up to twice the value of the withheld deposit (as well as associated legal fees) from their former landlord.
- Allowable Deductions – Deductions to a security deposit can be made to cover unpaid rent as well as fees associated with “damage.” “Damage” can be any type of wear placed upon the rented unit resulting from non-compliance with the rental agreement.
These security deposit statutes only apply to landlords who own or manage more than 5 properties.
Lease Termination in Arkansas
Notice Requirements. When it comes to terminating a lease in Arkansas, written notice must always be provided when it occurs under amicable conditions (that is, without an implication of force on the landlord’s part). In those situations, the following amounts of notice must be provided based upon the length of the tenant’s rental period:
- Week-to-week – 7 days’ notice is required
- Month-to-month – 30 days’ notice is required
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. In Arkansas, it is usual for a tenant to attempt to legally break an existing lease using an early termination clause written into that lease. However, without such a clause available, a tenant may be able to break their lease under one of the following provisions:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – A tenant may push to immediately end their lease if they determine it to be uninhabitable according to applicable health and safety laws. Also, a tenant may be “constructively evicted” in this manner if their landlord fails to meet habitability standards set out in their mutual lease agreement.
Tenants who are unable to apply for early termination under one of these provisions will be required to continue paying rent, even if they vacate the premises. Should they succeed in breaking their lease, they may still be required to pay rent until a new tenant can be found. Arkansas landlords are under no legal obligation to undertake this kind of re-renting in a timely manner, however.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Arkansas
Rent control & increases. Arkansas does not require its landlords to provide any prior notice in advance of raising a tenant’s rent. Arkansas also does not appear to cap how much can be raised at any given time. Both of these factors can be set through the terms of a written lease, however.
Landlords in Arkansas are expressly prohibited from raising rent for certain reasons, including as a matter of explicit or implicit discrimination against a protected class. These same landlords may not raise the rent as an act of retaliation, either, particularly when a tenant reports a health or safety code violation.
Rent related fees. In Arkansas, landlords are able to charge a number of rent-related fees which are not expressly regulated by current state statutes. These include late fees, which may be applied only after the customary 5 day grace period after a rent payment is due (typically the first of the month).
Landlords in Arkansas may also charge fees for a bounced check, though the value of these fees is capped by the state at between $10 and $50 depending on the reason for the bounce.
Housing Discrimination in Arkansas
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Arkansas’ current laws do not extend extra protections or establish supplementary protected classes when it comes to housing. All discrimination reports made to the state’s Attorney General must fall within one of the categories outlined in the federal Fair Housing Act.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. Arkansas’ Attorney General outlines several activities that may be considered discriminatory if their content or emphasis is geared towards one of several protected classes. These activities include:
- Advertisements and publications that suggest any preference or limitation
- Discriminatory language in the terms or conditions of the sale or lease
- Discriminatory assignment of a person to a particular section of a complex
Arkansas does not publicly indicate the penalties for these forms of discrimination. As such, it is assumed that they are handled by the state’s Attorney General on a case-by-case basis.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Arkansas
Though its landlord tenant laws are sparse, there are several other common categories relating to landlord tenant relations in Arkansas that you may be interested in learning more about.
Landlord Entry. Arkansas does not currently maintain a statute that set a standardized limit on how much notice a landlord must provide before entering a tenant’s dwelling. As such, they are generally able to enter for any reason (including repairs or showings) and at any time unless the terms of their lease set out an individualized system of advanced notice (which they then must follow).
Arkansas also does maintain a statute relating to landlord entry in cases of emergency. However, given that they are able to enter at any time and for any reason without lease terms dictating otherwise, it is assumed that emergency entry without notice is generally allowed.
Small Claims Court. Some landlord-tenant disputes in Arkansas are settled in small claims court, which is administered through the state Attorney General’s office. Cases made through this system can only be valued at up to $5,000 and carry a 5 year statute of limitations. Eviction cases are not handled in small claims court in Arkansas, however.
Mandatory Disclosures. Currently, Arkansas only requires one form of disclosure be made to tenants. This type of disclosure must provide tenants with information about lead-based paint hazards if the rental unit was built in or before 1978. These disclosures can be made in the lease or as a separate written agreement. More information on this federally-required disclosure class can be found here.
Changing the Locks. Locks for a rental unit in Arkansas may be changed by either the landlord or the tenant in cases of domestic abuse or sexual harassment against one or more tenants. Landlords may perform this task at a tenant’s request, or the tenant may complete it on their own with their landlord’s permission. In either case, both parties must be provided with a copy of any and all new keys.
Local Laws in Arkansas
Landlord tenant rights are not exclusively governed by state law. Cities and counties may enact their own rules and regulations for renters.
Little Rock Landlord Tenant Rights
While the city of Little Rock does not offer additional landlord tenant laws per se, they do provide a more in-depth set of health and safety codes that may be used to assess rental units within city limits. As such, landlords and tenants alike living in Little Rock should consider evaluating these supplementary statutes when choosing to operate or live in Little Rock.