Arkansas Habitability Laws

Arkansas landlord-tenant law governs all related issues in the state. Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits. 

Quick Facts for Arkansas

Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?

The Warranty of Habitability in Arkansas applies to short-term and long-term rental properties that are single-family or multi-family dwellings, as well as condos.

How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?

N/A

What Are Tenants Responsible For?

Tenants have a legal obligation to contact a health inspector if they are living in a unit with health issues. Note that tenants cannot withhold rent for any reason.

What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?

Residential properties are rented as-is and landlords have no requirements for habitability.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?

Again, landlords have no responsibilities for habitability in Arkansas. However, if they have outlined regulations in the lease, they must adhere to them. If they do not, tenants may take action against the landlord.

The Arkansas Residential Landlord Tenant Act was passed in 2007.  Part of the Act was declared unconstitutional in 2015, and as of March 2019, there didn’t appear to be a new version of the Act.  However, some Arkansas laws do address renters and landlords, and we discuss them below.

Attempts continue to be made to add protections for both landlords and renters into the existing laws, or to create new ones with those protections, but as of the date of this article, no progress had been made in getting something enacted to offer additional protections to both sides of the rental equation in Arkansas.

Interestingly, the laws addressing tenants and landlords are substantially similar today to what they were more than 100 years ago when the laws were originally enacted, although a few updates, such as regulations on security deposits, have been added over the years.

You may be surprised to learn that Arkansas is the only state that does not  require landlords to maintain habitability, meaning that physically unsafe dwellings may be rented, and the case law is “renter-beware”—if it’s not written into a lease agreement, no repairs or maintenance have to be done by the landlord.

Surprisingly, around 960,000 Arkansas rent, or roughly 33 percent of all those who live in the state—making the lack of laws outlining protections for renters even more egregious.

The chart below lays out the types of rental units the few written laws apply to.

Understanding the Law

In Arkansas, tenants rent properties “as-is.”  Any repairs they feel are necessary to make the dwelling habitable should be added to the rental agreement and agreed to by the landlord in writing, as well as an agreed-upon time to complete the repairs.

It’s up to the renter to contact their local government if they believe the rental property has not been maintained up to the locale’s housing codes.

Note:  The landlord is not required to perform any maintenance or make any repairs to a rental property that are not expressly written into the rental agreement, even if the building is not habitable. 

It’s the tenant’s responsibility to contact the local health inspector and report unhealthy living conditions.

Landlord Responsibilities

There are no legal requirements landlords must follow regarding habitability unless they have agreed to make repairs/perform maintenance in a written lease agreement.

Landlords are not required to ensure that common areas are safe or clean, and are not required to make any repairs.

Again, all responsibility lies with the tenant in the area of habitability.  The following chart emphasizes this point.

For any repairs a landlord is required to make due to the tenant’s actions, the landlord can use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out, or the landlord can evict the tenant.

Addressing Habitability Issues

The tenant is required to allow a landlord access to the property to make any required or agreed upon repairs, but the landlord must first give notice.  No specific time frame for this notice has been set out in Arkansas law, other than that entry times must be “reasonable.”

If a landlord fails to make repairs that have been written into the lease agreement, or agreed to in writing after the tenant moves in, their tenant has the right to:

  • Renegotiate the lease
  • Move out
  • Pursue legal action, which could result in the issuance of a Notice of Abatement

If a landlord is issued a Notice of Abatement by the presiding court in which in the rental property is located and fail to address the issues detailed in the Notice, the landlord will be fined $250 per day until the issues are resolved.

Finally, if the costs for any repairs were taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord is required to give their tenant an itemized list of everything paid for from the deposit within 60 days of the lease’s termination.

Sources

  1. Arkansas Attorney General, “Landlord and Tenant Rights.”
  2. Arkansas Realtors, “The Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook.”
  3. Arkansas Times, “Revised Landlord Tenant Bill Blocked Again Despite Concessions to Realtor’s Group.”
  4.  Law Info, “Arkansas Landlord Tenant Law.”
  5. Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “Renters Have Few Rights Under Arkansas Law.”

Read About the Warranty of Habitability in Other States