The Arkansas rental application form is a document that landlords send out to a prospective tenant to determine whether they are a viable tenant or not. The information requested relates to rental history, eviction history, and financial information and is used for background screening purposes.
- Application Fee – in Arkansas, there is no limit to the application fees being charged. The application fee is non-refundable, regardless of acceptance or denial.
- Discrimination Laws – Arkansas does not have specific state protections against discrimination. The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal in Arkansas to ask about race, color, religion, nationality, sex, disabilities, or familial status, with some exceptions.
- Consent for Credit Check – the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that the landlord collects written consent from the applicant to complete a credit check.
Arkansas Rental Application Laws
The following laws apply to the application and tenant screening process in the state of Arkansas.
Collecting an Application Fee in Arkansas
While other states specify a maximum amount to collect as a rental application fee, Arkansas does not have any limitations on who can charge the application fee, or how much this fee can be.
Illegal Housing Discrimination in Arkansas
Federal housing laws are in effect in Arkansas to protect potential renters from unfair discrimination during the application process.
Fair Housing Act
The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:
- National Origin (Nationality)
- Familial Status (having or not having children)
- Disability (Physical or Mental)
As a result, asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is not allowed.
Exemptions to Fair Housing Laws
In Arkansas, the following exemptions to Federal Fair Housing Act laws are allowed:
- Familial Status – it is acceptable to ask about and base an application decision on if children will occupy the rented premises in any of the below cases:
- Housing for Older Persons Exemption – landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the “Housing for Older Persons” exemption, can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities that meet the criteria for a senior housing designation.
- “Mrs Murphy Exemption” – dwellings with four units or less where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord or the landlord owns more than 1 single-family houses. Additionally, race cannot be a deciding factor as per the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
- Religious Organizations – it is possible to use religious criteria to give preferential consideration to certain applicants if the property is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent it commercially. However, race and other protected classes may not be used to influence the decision. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
- Private Clubs – private clubs that operate without public access or commercial intent and do not discriminate when it comes to accepting members may provide preferential consideration of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
Federally, race is a non-exemption criteria that cannot have an influence on any decisions, regardless of legal exemptions due to the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Consent for Credit Checks
Before a landlord can run a credit check based on the prospective tenant’s information on the submitted rental application, the Federal Credit Reporting Act requires that written consent must be given by the applicant. This written consent can be given via a statement of such and signature on the rental application form itself, or via a separate consent form (example template).
Arkansas Security Deposit Law
If an applicant is approved, the following laws apply to the collection of security deposits in Arkansas:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount: 2 months’ rent, if the landlord owns six (6) or more properties and is leasing through a manager. If they do not meet these requirements, the limit does not apply.
- Receipt Requirements: there is no requirement for landlords to provide a written receipt of the security deposit.
- Financial Holdings: there is no required procedure for holding security deposit funds.
Sending Rental Application Forms
Landlords can send rental application forms to tenants in one of two ways:
- Manually – using the PDF and Word templates available for free on our website (see the top right of this webpage), landlords can send a rental application form to tenants via a physical copy or email.
- With Software – most popular property management software services include an online rental application form that can automate the collection and screening process for landlords.
For reviews of popular property management software, click here.
Processing a Rental Application
The next step in the tenant screening process is to use the information on the rental application form to conduct a background check:
- Credit Check – subject to the tenant’s written consent, a credit check will either provide a simpler “pass/fail” report, or a full credit report including the tenant’s credit score and information about their income, employment, past addresses, credit inquiries and more.
- Eviction Check – an eviction check aims to show the tenant’s history of eviction filings or judgments against them at any point in the last 7 years.
- Criminal History Check – a criminal history check aims to show any records involving the tenant in state court criminal records or in databases such as the national sex offender public registry.
Arkansas Eviction Record Search
Evictions in Arkansas are public record, so they can be accessed by by the public. While there are third-party programs and businesses that can collect this information, it can be accessed through the state’s Supreme Court website.
To access the eviction records:
- Go to CourtConnect.
- Accept the disclaimer.
- Select Person or Business Search from the side menu.
- Enter the potential renter’s name and select EV – CV-EVICTION from the Case Type drop-down menu to access civil court documents. You may designate a county if you know which jurisdiction their previous rentals fall under.
Responding to Rental Applications
If an applicant meets all of your tenant screening criteria, then there’s nothing you need to do beyond notifying them and moving forward with the normal leasing process.
However, if you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e. credit, eviction or criminal history) and you make an “adverse action” against them (EVEN IF the report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for doing so), you are required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”.
An adverse action is defined as either rejecting the applicant or instituting additional/higher requirements than you have for another applicant (i.e. requiring a co-signer, larger security deposit, higher rent or an additional deposit).
In these cases, an adverse action notice is required to be sent to the applicant, and must include the following:
- The agency’s name, address and phone number that supplied the report.
- A statement explaining that the CRA didn’t make the decision for the adverse action themselves, and as a result, that they can’t explain why the decision was made.
- A statement explaining the applicant’s right to dispute such information and their right to a copy of the report in question within 60 days.
To learn more about requirements surrounding adverse action notices, see this article from the Federal Trade Commission. To get an idea of what an adverse action notice might look like, see this example letter.
Additionally, to protect against accusations of illegal discrimination, it is always recommended to include the exact reason why the application was not approved in the rejection letter.