Renters in Arkansas have comparatively fewer rights than renters in any other state in the USA.
This is evidenced by the fact that Arkansas is the only state that does not require landlords to keep a rental unit in a habitable condition.
It is one of the few states that allows landlords to make a retaliatory eviction if renters begin actions that are not wanted as long as Federal discrimination laws are not violated.
Here are some other things you need to know when it comes to Arkansas renters rights.
1. Tenants Are Not Allowed To Withhold Rent.
If a furnace breaks in the middle of a cold spell, tenants cannot withhold rent money to have the furnace fixed.
The rental agreements in Arkansas require tenants to pay their rent on time no matter what the condition of their rental unit may be.
Tenants who do pay for a needed repair for basic necessities can file a lawsuit in small claims court.
2. Tenants Who Don’t Pay Their Rent Are Referred To Criminal Court.
Arkansas is the only state that considers the non-payment of rent a criminal violation.
If the rent is not paid, it is considered a misdemeanor that can lead to fines and imprisonment.
About 1,200 criminal eviction cases are heard in the state every year.
Tenants who don’t pay on time receive a 10 day notice to vacate or pay and if they fail to do so, they can be arrested.
3. Tenants Are Required To Deposit What They May Owe In Rent If They Plead Not Guilty To Criminal Charges Regarding Their Rent.
If a tenant wishes to contest a 10 day notice should criminal charges be brought against them, Arkansas requires tenants to pay the full amount that they allegedly owe in an escrow account that is supervised by the court.
If the tenant is found guilty, this money is then forfeited to the landlord.
Pleading not guilty also means stiffer fines and up to 90 days in jail.
4. Civil Evictions Are Also Allowed.
Landlords have the option to pursue a civil eviction as well.
This allows them to compel an eviction that is more standard when compared to the rest of the USA.
The same process is followed – a 10 day notice followed by a summons and complaint regarding the situation.
Most tenants just move out during the 10 day period they’re allowed rather than face the eviction process in Arkansas.
The state legislature has been considering new statutes since 2011 regarding these laws, but until new guidelines are passed, these are the things you need to know about Arkansas renters rights.