Cost of Breaking a Lease in Arkansas

Cost of Breaking a Lease in Arkansas

Last Updated: October 1, 2023 by Phil Ahn

In Arkansas, tenants that break their lease early may be held for all remaining rent due and any property damage. In addition, landlords in Arkansas are not required to make reasonable efforts to re-rent and may still be able to charge the old tenant when a new tenant cannot be found.

Breaking a Lease Early Without Penalty in Arkansas

In Arkansas, a tenant may break a lease early without penalty under the following circumstances:

  • Permanent change in military station resulting in relocation
  • Early termination clause
  • Domestic or sexual violence
  • Death of the sole tenant
  • Unenforceable, illegal, or void lease
  • Harassment or violations of the tenant’s privacy
  • Refusal to reasonably accommodate a tenant with physical or mental disability
  • Retaliation against the tenant for reporting lead hazards to a government entity

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In Arkansas, a landlord can charge an early termination fee if the tenant breaks a lease early, but it must be written into the contract along with the terms. For example, a landlord may require 30-days’ notice and 2 months’ rent in order to break the lease early.

How Much Remaining Rent Could Tenants Owe in Arkansas

Arkansas does not have a law limiting the amount a tenant owes a landlord when breaking a lease early. A tenant could be liable for paying the remaining rent through the life of the lease. Furthermore, a landlord does not have to mitigate damages, which could increase the amount a tenant owes.

Landlord’s Duty to Mitigate Damages in Arkansas

In Arkansas, a landlord does not have to make a reasonable effort to re-rent their unit when a renter has broken a lease early. Landlords don’t need to try to rent their property quickly or keep their losses to a minimum when a tenant breaks the lease early.

Tenant’s Right to Sublet in Arkansas

A tenant can legally sublet in Arkansas so long as they receive the landlord’s written permission and the lease does not specifically prohibit it. Unless the lease states otherwise, a tenant’s right to sublet is contingent upon receiving the landlord’s written consent.

Even though a tenant might have permission to sublet, the landlord retains the right to reject a prospective subtenant. Reasons for rejection might include the subtenant being financially unable to make the lease payments.

If a tenant subleases their unit without the landlord’s explicit written permission, the tenant is in breach of their lease. In Arkansas, a lease violation permits a landlord to evict the tenant and subtenant (starting with a 14-day notice to comply or vacate) and sue the original tenant for any resulting damages.

In addition to the landlord, the subtenant also may have grounds to take legal action if the original tenant sublet the unit without the landlord’s permission.

Consequences for Moving Out Early in Arkansas

If a tenant breaks their lease and moves out early, the potential consequences include:

  • The landlord keeping the security deposit
  • The landlord suing the tenant for damages
  • A lower credit score
  • A potential bad reference in the future

Can the Landlord Keep the Security Deposit?

If a tenant breaks a lease early, a landlord can keep all or part of the security deposit. The amount kept by the landlord depends on how much the tenant still owes in damages and remaining rent.

When a tenant breaks a lease early, the landlord can deduct from the deposit the amount of rent the landlord loses until a new tenant starts paying. If the owed rent becomes larger than the amount of the security deposit, then the landlord can hold the tenant liable for the difference—regardless of whether the landlord has made a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit.

Similarly, a landlord can deduct from the deposit any property-related costs such as damage the tenant caused to the premises. These damages need to be caused by the tenant’s negligence or carelessness rather than from normal wear and tear.

Can the Tenant Be Sued for Damages?

If a tenant breaks a lease early in Arkansas, the landlord can sue a tenant for a breach of contract for the remaining rent due or for any property damage. Damages for less than $5,000 are considered “small claims” in Arkansas and should be filed in the county where the tenant is located.

If suing for damages greater than $5,000, a landlord can file a claim in the district court for the county in which they live.