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Read further to learn more about residential lease agreements in Arkansas, such as what disclosures are required and what else should be included.
What is a Residential Lease Agreement?
In the state of Arkansas, a residential lease agreement is defined as a document between two parties, known as the landlord or property manager, and the tenant—otherwise known as the lessor and the lessee. The landlord or property manager is agreeing to rent a housing unit to the tenant for a predetermined amount of time. This document should be carefully written to include all legal disclosures mandated by the state of Arkansas to the tenant or potential tenant.
Typically, there is a specific structure to these documents, as explained below. Specific sections of these documents are important to include, as they provide a guideline for the tenant in regards to the expectations set by the landlord. Rules and restrictions, as well as an explanation of repercussions for any breach of the leasing contract, should also be included. This document should serve as a guideline for the individual who intends upon living in the unit being leased.
Most importantly, this document should be thorough, as it serves as a form of legal protection for the landlord should any significant issues occur. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all legal aspects of the lease are discussed within the document, such as rent, fees, and legal guidelines set by the state. This is to ensure, should a breach occur, the landlord has legal proof that the tenant was advised of these expectations, keeping the landlord from being legally responsible for any actions taken against them in the court of law.
Below, we provide a guideline of the expectations of the leasing document, as well as what sections of the document itself should be included and in what order. Furthermore, information on how to write the document and how it should be structured is included, as ensuring your document is thorough and well written is of utmost importance prior to leasing a unit to a potential tenant.
How to Write a Residential Leasing Agreement
This section provides a breakdown of how to properly format a leasing agreement in the state of Arkansas.
Lease Introduction and Names of All Parties: Landlord & Tenant(s)
In most cases, this is the first section included in all lease agreements. In Arkansas, the landlord is required to provide the tenants with the necessary information required in regards to the tenant’s occupancy. This information is vital as it provides the names of all authorized parties on the lease.
Typically, this section will begin with an introduction to the property and any legal terms that will follow, such as the reference of all named tenants as occupants in the lease, and reference of the specific property owner or landlord as management. This is often where contact information is included, such as the address of the property, and other applicable information such as building or unit numbers. Once this information has been provided, the names of those authorized to be on the lease and in the property are listed
It is critical that the information listed in this part of the lease is correct—all individuals who are over the age of 18 and authorized to live in the specific housing unit provided should be listed in this section of the lease to ensure that all parties living in the unit can be held responsible for any breach of the lease that may occur. This is important for all included parties as any activity that takes place on the property by an individual who is not on the lease may cause liability issues for the landlord. Typically, prior to the lease being signed, we advise this section is proofread to ensure accuracy.
Terms and Limits of Occupancy
This particular section outlines the term of the lease. In many cases, leases last anywhere from 1 month to 13 months – however, depending on your housing situation, this may vary and any agreed upon length of lease should be dictated in the terms agreement. It is important to ensure that all information listed here is also correct, as it will specify the date the tenant may move into the available housing unit, as well as the specific move out date.
In many cases, this section may also dictate the timeframe in which the new resident may come pick up their keys for their unit, as well as what time the unit must be vacated by at the end of the lease unless otherwise agreed upon between the tenant and the landlord. This is important information that the tenant must have, as without this information they may extend the length of the lease.
Furthermore, this section may also outline certain limitations of the lease. While in most cases, specific limits are explained in addendums throughout the lease, this is where you may outline the repercussions of lease violations, as well as the expectations should the tenant be evicted for any reason. This section will allow you to specify any expectations for the end of the lease. For instance, in this section, you may include notice time should the tenant plan to leave at the end of the lease – in most cases, this is 14-day notice, however, some landlords may require up to 30 days notice, depending on their specific needs.
Specific expectations may include the expectations of subletting the unit – if the tenant chooses to vacate the unit prior to the end of the lease, but finds a replacement tenant, you may outline the expectations for having sublet the lease. In many cases, landlords will require a new, subletting lease form to be filled out by the new tenant(s) based upon the expectations set in the lease.
For instance, the landlord may outline in this section their rights to the eviction of the tenant for any purposes. In Alaska, it is important to note that the landlord may provide tenants who are involved in certain types of legal activity while on the premises an “unconditional quit notice” which provides them the tenants with five days (but, in some cases up to 24 hours, depending on the activity with which the individual was involved) to vacate the premises before the landlord officially files for eviction.
Beyond this, you may explain to the tenant in this section any further limits of the lease, such as any fines for specific violations. You can also use this section to reference other sections of the lease specific to any violation not able to be included in this section, for brevity.
Rent and Utilities
Here, you may outline the specifics of each month’s rent. Typically, this explains the monthly charges that the tenant is responsible for. Specifically, it is important to list in this section the amount due each month for housing. This needs to be a specific number, such as $1200 and will specify when the payment is due. Often, this is on a monthly basis, however, depending on the agreement come to between the tenant and the landlord, the payment intervals may be different and may not be on a specific date but, for instance, on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, or every other month, based upon the previously arranged agreement.
This section may also outline any fees associated with late payments—for instance, it may say that the rent is due on the first of each month, with a grace period between the first and the third, and should rent not be paid by the first of the month, a fee of $75 will be charged, with an additional $10 being charged each subsequent day the rent is not paid from that point. This is the section in which you may also choose to outline the expectations if rent is not paid – for instance, if rent is not received by the 15th of the month at 5 pm, the landlord will file for eviction unless other, prior arrangements are made.
Also included in this section is an explanation of the expectations for utility payments. Depending upon the housing arrangements, this section may be minimal; however, it may include a variety of information, such as the fees associated for trash pickup and removal (or valet trash, where applicable), the fees for renters insurance if the tenant is not choosing to provide that themselves, as well as fees for any included utilities such as cable or internet, and the expectation of the water bill each month depending upon whether the water usage is paid for as a utility or individually. Other fees that may be included are monthly pet fees, as well as electric, depending upon your arrangement with the tenant.
This section is important, as it lists the exact expectations (with the exception of metered bills, which will vary from month to month based on the tenant’s usages) of cost for the tenant on a month to month basis (or the agreed upon interval previously mentioned in the lease.) It is important to ensure that these fees are notated exactly, as this specifies what the tenant is to pay the landlord each payment period, Furthermore, it outlines all utilities that the tenant is responsible for paying along with the rent and specifies what utility accounts the tenant will be responsible for maintaining outside of the lease.
There are multiple different bills that could be attached to the utility section, dependent upon what is offered in the unit the landlord is providing. Ensure that all applicable utility fees are listed in this section to the tenant so that a clear expectation is provided for the expected overall cost per pay period.
Security Deposits and Fees
This section will dictate the amount to be paid prior to move-in by the tenant in the form of security deposits and other fees—such as application fees, pet fees, cleaning fees for the unit, or associated risk fees as required by the property management. These fees are typically charged up-front and must be paid in a form that the landlord accepts. Typically, these are to be paid via a cashier’s check, money order, or in cash unless otherwise specified by the landlord and agreed upon by the tenant.
Also included in this section are the disclosures in regards to the return of the security deposit. In the state of Arkansas, the deposit must be returned within 30 days of the tenant’s vacancy should any deposit be returned. Should the deposit not be returned or only partially returned, the landlord should provide proper documentation to the tenant in regards to what was charged and removed from the security deposit, at the tenant’s request.
Maintenance, Alterations, and Repairs
Here, we cover information in regards to outlining the expectation for maintenance, alterations, and repairs. Typically speaking, maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord, unless otherwise specified in the leasing agreement. In many cases, for instance, the landlord can create a disclosure in the lease citing that any maintenance that is required due to negligence from the tenants (such as drains that have been clogged due to inappropriate items attempting to be flushed or washed down the sink) will be billed to the tenant directly.
In the state of Arkansas, the landlord is expected to complete repairs within a reasonable timeframe. Typically, this timeframe is considered 72 hours, and this information should be provided to the tenant in the leasing contract. While this timeframe is not strict, it is a guideline for the landlord and tenants to understand the expectation for repairs – repair requests, however, should be acknowledged and started within this timeframe, however.
Access to Property and Notice of Entry
According to Arkansas law, while a notice to enter is not legally required for reasonable needs—such as inspections of systems, repairs, and other routine work—in most cases, when it is reasonable to do so, the landlord should provide the tenants with at least 2 days’ notice prior to entry. Should it be unreasonable—for instance, in the case of a water leak—the landlord is required to notify the tenant that the property was accessed and advise them of the reason for entry.
While this is an optional section, this section will outline the expectations of any tenant who owns a pet. It defines the initial expectation of the pet owner, as well as the liability for any damages the pet may cause. Furthermore, it outlines any fees and restrictions on pets in the unit, such as limitation of the number of pets allowed in the dwelling, as well as any breed restrictions dictated by the landlord.
This section will also detail any specific information in regards to a breach of the lease for the pet information. For instance, if the tenant has too many pets in the unit, or does not properly notify the landlord of an additional pet without paying a deposit, as well as any fees that may be applied to pet damage. Moreover, this section will provide information in regards to all fees that may be accrued, such as the pet deposit, or monthly pet rent owed to the landlord in addition to the regular monthly rent.
Legal Restrictions and Other Rules
In this section, any other restrictions and rules that may apply to the unit can be listed. Such restrictions may include the expectation of notification of any issues with the dwelling, as well as any legal restrictions that may apply to the unit. Any legal disclosures that may need to be made, per state laws, should be added to these sections to ensure that the tenant is provided with all information that is legally required by the state of Arkansas.
While these topics should be included in every leasing agreement, there may be additional addendums you feel are beneficial to the lease. Feel free to add any further information you, as the landlord, feel your tenant needs to know and have access to.
This is the last section of the leasing document, and often one of the most important as it is what creates the legally binding document between the tenant and the landlord. In most cases, this section contains a line for the landlord to sign the document, as well as for a date section and a section for each of the tenants on the lease to sign and date the document. It is important to note that the signing of this document should be completed prior to the start date as noted on the lease. If it is not completed prior to the keys being released to the tenant, in many cases the lease may be considered void, for all intents and purposes.
Once the signatures of all parties have been obtained, however, the lease is valid and the tenants will be able to legally reside in the residence on the date indicated on the leasing contract. Should any issues arise during the leasing term, this document can be reviewed for legal and mediation purposes.