Arkansas Landlord Tenant Laws
Entering into a rental contract can be a process fraught with anxiety. This is true, especially, of those who know nothing about rental law. Knowing this information protects both the renter and the landlord. Before you “sign on the dotted line” you should understand important aspects of landlord-tenant law, so that you know your rights and responsibilities under Arkansas rental law. This guide will list and explain the most important aspects to consider when scrutinizing a rental agreement. All information is taken from the following sources:
- The Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook
- Landlord-Tenant Commission Report
- Consumer Alert: Rights and Responsibilities For Renters, Landlords
It is an unavoidable necessity, for your own protection, to review Arkansas rental statutes before accepting any contract because rental laws change frequently and there is some variability between different counties’ statutes. Every occurrence is different, so exercise caution and verify how the statutes affect your particular circumstances.
In any case, if you’re not confident about the agreement, or have questions, it is highly advisable that you seek out the advice of an attorney, sanctioned by the Arkansas State Bar Association for any clarification on any issues you are unsure of.
Statutes Regarding Security Deposits
Security deposits are a part of most rental agreements. There are several statutes that govern these, and knowing them is to your advantage. Here are some examples:
- In Arkansas, the security deposit has a cap at a maximum two months’ rent.
- The landlord must return any refundable security deposit within 60 days
In order for everything to go smoothly, and for you to receive your security deposit back at the end of the lease, the lessee and lessor should do a walk-through, before signing the lease, to document any damage that already exists at the time of the agreement. They must follow that up with a walk through at the conclusion of the lease, so any new damage can be assessed, or if none exists, so that the security deposit can be returned to the renter.
The security deposit protects the landlord should there be any undue damage to their property. Arkansas law does enforce requirements to spare tenants being taken advantage of as well. There are very limited circumstances under which the landlord may retain some or all of the deposit. There is also an inconvenient process that landlords must go through which, in itself, acts as a deterrent to potential abuses.
When a landlord is in violation of the security deposit-related statutes, the best recourse the tenant has is a suit to recover the lessee’s loss of the security deposit. The limit on the amount of these suits is $5,000.
Lease, Rent, and Fee Rules
The written agreement must be explicit, clearly laying out the terms of the agreement. Some of the “high-points” that must be hit are:
- Rent amount
- Due date of rent, and any grace periods to be allowed. Also, the contingency for the months when the due dates holiday and weekend must be stipulated.
- To whom rent is to be remitted and what method of payment they accept.
- How much notice a landlord must give before raising rent or changing other contractual elements
Arkansas state law doesn’t provide direction on whether landlords can charge a late fee, for every day that the payment is delinquent. Many landlords do, however. As long as it is in your rental contract, it is within his rights, This is the reason that it is so important to read the terms of your contract; so that you know exactly what you are getting.
There isn’t any rule on the amount of rent that can be charged. This is completely up to the landlord and what the area market will accept. Arkansas law does, however, does offer recourse for tenants who have been subjected to a rent increase out of a motive of retaliation. They also may not raise the rent on the basis of discrimination.
Rent increases, unless written differently in your rental contract, must be preceded by a 10-day notice. This provision does not affect long-term leases, as the landlord can’t change the amount of rent while a long-term lease is in effect.
There is a required five-day grace period on rent due. see (A.C.A. 5 18-17-701 (b)).
Notice and Entry Rules
There are several instances in which landlords are required to give their tenants notice of particular actions. Some of these required notices include:
- Termination of Month-to-Month lease – 30 days notice required (A.C.A. § 18-17-704)
- Termination of Week-to-Week lease – 7 days notice required (A.C.A. § 18-17-704)
- Termination of the lease due to non-payment – 5 days notice must be given. The landlord may not proceed with eviction until this grace period has expired. (A.C.A. § 18-17-701, A.C.A. § 18-16-101, A.C.A. § 18-17-901(b))
- Termination due to an implicit violation of terms of the lease – No notice necessary. Immediate termination is provided for in these extreme circumstances. (A.C.A. § 18-60-304)
Other types of notice required for landlords to submit to tenants regarding entry, include notices of entry for different reasons, such as:
Maintenance and Repairs – The landlord may enter the residence for maintenance when repairs are not of an emergency nature. Since the statute only provides for the entry, but not the length of the notice, it is to the lessee’s benefit to insist that a reasonable period of notice should be implicitly stated in the contract, for your protection. (A.C.A. § 18-17-602)
Entry for showings – Landlords are allowed to enter the residence, for purposes of showing the unit to potential new occupants. Because there is no specific length of time required by the statute, it would behoove you to ensure that at least 24-hour notice is required, written into your rental contract. (A.C.A. § 18-17-602)
Emergency entry – Landlords are within their rights to enter your residence, in the case that they have reason to believe that an emergency is in progress. There is no specific statute for this situation. This is necessary to protect landlords who act with the bravery to help in situations where occupants may be in danger.
Pest Control Treatment – Landlords aren’t required, by statute, to give notice of entry for pest control purposes. This is another area where you can protect yourself by demanding a 24-hour notice before any agent of the landlord enters your apartment for any reason, besides possible emergency situations.
Disposal of Property, Left Behind By Former Occupants – When tenants leave property upon vacating the premises, the property is considered to be abandoned. The landlord has the right, by statute, to dispose of the contents as he sees fit and without notice to the former occupant. The renter has no recourse in this matter. (A.C.A. § 18-16-108)
Other Miscellaneous Information Regarding tenant and landlord obligations:
1. Tenant Requirements – Tenants must abide by all responsibilities imposed upon them by the rental agreement. This includes:
Keep the unit clean and safe.
Remove all trash and waste from the unit to the designated trash receptacles in the rental complex. If none exists you must personally provide for removal.
You must keep all appliances in a well-maintained manner, leaving them as you found them, minus the inevitable wear-and-tear which occurs from frequent use.
NEVER destroy, deface or vandalize any part of the complex or the unit.This can and will open you up to civil and criminal action, It just isn’t worth it. If you have a grievance, follow the proper procedures to address it. Criminal activity is never the answer to a civil disagreement.
Live in a peaceful manner and don’t infringe on other tenants’ rights to do the same. Don’t disturb neighbors late at night, or early in the morning. In general, just be considerate of your neighbors and they are much more likely to be considerate of you.
2. Landlord Requirements: – Landlords must abide by the restrictions imposed upon them by the rental agreement. The restrictions and rights vary from contract to contract. The following lists some of the more frequently seen restrictions and provisions for landlords:
Landlords are entitled to verify an incidence of domestic violence.
Landlords cannot deny a tenant renewal of the lease, or evict a tenant because of a domestic violence incident.
Landlords must change, or re-key locks at the tenant’s request. The tenant is responsible for the charges associated with this.
Landlords may not evict a tenant as retaliation and may not threaten eviction as a result of a tenant’s claim of health hazards in the unit.
Landlords must provide disclosure, in writing, of lead paint hazard, attached to the rental contract. Included with this must be a pamphlet which describes the effects of lead poisoning on health and childhood development. The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act or (URLTA) provides remedies for situations when the proper protocol for notification of lead paint use is not followed.
URLTA provides remedies for situations when not following proper protocol for health-related measures to bring them back into conformity with the related standards.
It is so pertinent to read the contract every time you rent a property. Always insist upon the inclusion of provisions that you deem to be important. Object when you find clauses missing that protect you, or if you find clauses that could possibly harm you. This is the only way that you can be certain you are getting a lease that you can live with. Once you sign on that line, the deal is done and you are stuck. Be prepared and ensure that you are stuck with a deal that you can live with.