What Is the Eviction Process in Arkansas?
The landlord/tenant laws in Arkansas are very unforgiving to tenants who fail to pay their rent on time. It also provides landlords with numerous remedies any time there is a breach of the rental agreement. Tenants have a very specific and very limited amount of time before the eviction process continues on undeterred. Arkansas is also unique in the fact that there is a civil and a criminal eviction process which landlords are able to initiate. The criminal eviction process is used when payment for rent has not been made after 10 days have lapsed and the tenant has failed to vacate the unit. This constitutes a Class B misdemeanor and tenants can be fined up to $25 per day for every day they remain in the unit. Each day they stay also constitutes a new charge, so a 30 day possession could result in 30 misdemeanor charges. There is no imprisonment that occurs, so public defenders are not made available to tenants. The goal under Arkansas law is simple: pay on time, move out if you cannot, or face severe consequences.
What Notices Must a Landlord Present?
Landlords are required to provide tenants with a 3 day notice to quit if an unlawful detainer is being pursued. If the rental agreement has been breached, then a 14 day notice to remedy the problem must be given. The 14 day notice must provide specific details about how the contract was breached. If there is no written contract in place for a tenant, then landlords are allowed to evict tenants for any reason and at any time as long as one rental period of notice has been given. This generally requires a 1 month notice, but for those paying weekly rent, the eviction happens in 7 days. Common violations include damage to rental property, criminal activity occurring in the home, or allowing unauthorized people to live in the home. The criminal method of eviction for landlords, the failure to vacate, can only be used when rent has not been paid. This is a separate written notice and requires a 10 day compliance before charges can be brought against the tenant.
What Are Tenant Remedies?
Once a landlord has given a tenant their notice and they have not remedies the situation, they have just 5 days to file an objection to the eviction proceedings after being served with a summons and complaint. If no objection is filed, then landlords may obtain a Writ of Possession immediately to have the tenant evicted by local law enforcement. If the tenant does file in time, then there are several defenses that may become available for the eviction proceedings to be halted. The most common reason for halting an eviction is a landlord accepting a partial payment of the rent that is due, which is Arkansas waives the landlord's right to continue the eviction proceeding. Self-help evictions that landlords take, such as changing the locks or cutting off power, are also grounds to halt an eviction. Even before trial, if the court finds a landlord is likely to win, a judge will issue a Writ of Possession. Tenants may stay in the unit until the trial, but they must post a security deposit within 5 days of issuance. Without it, a tenant may be forcibly evicted by law enforcement.
Why Is the Criminal Eviction In Place?
Some tenants do not wish to leave a rental property until law enforcement arrives to force them out. The cost to the landlord can be immense when this happens because there are court filings, legal costs, and other expenses that continue to build up. By making it illegal to stay past the 10 day notification period, the responsibility is placed on the tenant instead of the landlord to rectify the situation. If law enforcement must evict a tenant, any possessions that cannot be taken along will be stored at tenant's expense. If tenants leave property behind before a Writ of Possession is enforced, landlords may be able to consider the property to be abandoned and be allowed to either sell those items are throw them away. Threatening to take self-help measures as a landlord is also considered a crime. Tenants are allowed to contact law enforcement immediately if they believe this has happened to them. Arkansas takes the rental agreement very seriously with their landlord/tenant law. This ultimately makes the relationship easier to manage for both parties in most circumstances, allowing a rental property to become a profitable investment.
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