Arkansas Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Arkansas Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 18, 2024 by Phil Ahn

 Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent and late fees

Costs of damage

Costs due to noncompliance with lease

Return Deadline 60 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 2x Amount Due + Court Costs + Attorneys’ Fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Arkansas, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Arkansas

In Arkansas, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent and late fees
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
    • Costs due to noncompliance with the lease agreement

    Most states, such as Arkansas, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

    If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

    What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Arkansas?

    Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.

    “Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

    Examples include:

    • Gently worn carpets
    • Lightly scratched glass
    • Faded paint and flooring
    • Lightly dirtied grout
    • Loose door handles
    • Stained bath fixtures

    Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

    Examples include:

    • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
    • Broken tiles or windows
    • Holes in the wall
    • Missing fixtures

    Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Arkansas?

    Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond ordinary wear and tear.

    Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.

    Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Arkansas?

    Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

    Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

    Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Arkansas?

    Arkansas law allows landlords to charge for cleaning if the tenant causes damage that requires cleaning or fails to complete their cleaning responsibilities outlined in the lease agreement.

    Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Arkansas?

    Yes, in Arkansas, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

    • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
    • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
    • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

    Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

    Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Arkansas?

    Arkansas law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

    Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

    Security Deposit Returns in Arkansas

    Landlords must return a security deposit by first-class mail with a written statement of deductions, if any, to the tenant’s last known address no later than 60 days after the lease term ends and the tenant vacates the rental unit.

    How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Arkansas?

    Arkansas landlords have 60 days after the lease term ends and the tenant vacates the rental unit to return any unused portion of the security deposit. However, some landlords that own five or fewer units are exempt from the security deposit rules.

    Rental units are exempt from these laws if both of the following are true:

    • The total number of rental units the landlord owns collectively with their immediate family and their companies is five or fewer rental units
    • The landlord does not use a management service to rent out units, including rent collection services

      Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Arkansas?

      Unlike in some states, such as New Jersey, landlords in Arkansas do not owe interest on security deposits.

      How Do Landlords Give Notice?

      Written notice must be sent by first-class mail to the tenant’s last known address and must include the amount of the security deposit due, if any, to the tenant, along with a written statement of deductions.

      If the notice is returned to the landlord and the tenant cannot be found with reasonable effort, the security deposit becomes the property of the landlord 180 days after the date the notice was first mailed.

      Security Deposit Disputes in Arkansas

      If landlords do not return the security deposit within the 60-day period, tenants can file for the return of the portion of the security deposit wrongfully withheld plus damages in court up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld plus court costs and attorneys’ fees.

      Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

      • Failure to provide written notice when deductions are made
      • Unreasonable deductions

      How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Arkansas?

      If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $5,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in District Court.

      A small claims case must be filed within 3 or 5 years depending on whether the lease agreement was oral or written. An attorney is not permitted. Cases are filed in the Small Claims Court for the county where the property is located or where the defendant lives. The filing fee varies by court but is typically $65 plus the cost of service.