Arkansas Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Arkansas landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Arkansas Landlord Tenant Act.

AR Landlord Tenant Law

  • Arkansas Code Title 18, Subtitle 2, Chapter - Arkansas Residential Landlord Tenant Act

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, Arkansas landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating against someone as a renter because he or she is a victim of domestic abuse.  Ark. Code § 18-16-112.(b)(1)

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  42 U.S.C. § 3603(b)

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Unless the tenancy agreement specifies a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant will enter into a month to month tenancy by default. If the tenant is paying rent weekly (instead of monthly), then the tenancy will be week to week.  Ark. Code § 18-17-401.(c)

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Arkansas landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

In addition, the Arkansas Landlord Tenant Act does recommend that rental agreements include the following: rent details, tenancy type and duration, landlord's rights (and responsibilities), tenant's rights (and responsibilities).  Ark. Code § 18-17-401

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Arkansas landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • limit or restrict the tenant from requesting the help of law enforcement or other emergency services  Ark. Code § 18-17-701.(f)

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Security Deposit

Arkansas landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to two month's rent as security deposit.  Ark. Code § 18-16-304

If the landlord owns five or less dwelling units, then there is no maximum limit to the amount of security deposit he or she can ask for.  Ark. Code § 18-16-303.(a)

Deductions and Returns

Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Arkansas landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties - See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below  Ark. Code § 18-17-601

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 60 days - This list and remaining deposit have to be sent together by first class mail. The list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.  Ark. Code § 18-16-305.(a)

If the landlord fails to follow Arkansas landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover up to two times the amount of security deposit.  Ark. Code § 18-16-306.(b)

If the remaining security deposit is returned to the landlord (undeliverable) AND the landlord is unable to locate the tenant after making a reasonable effort, the landlord may keep the deposit after 180 days (from the mailing date of the deposit).  Ark. Code § 18-16-305.(b)(2)

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Little Rock, Arkansas AR

Arkansas Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property.  Ark. Code § 18-17-401.(b)(1),(2)

The Arkansas landlord tenant handbook recommends tenants to pay their rent by check and state what they are paying for (e.g. which month's rent) on the check itself. Paying by check is preferred because there will be an automatic receipt when the landlord cashes it and the tenant can also cancel a check it if gets lost in the mail.

If the tenant paying rent by cash or money order, he or she should ask the landlord for a receipt.

Late Rent

There are no Arizona landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

There are no specific Arizona landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Arkansas Landlord Tenant Act does NOT require the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition UNLESS it is stated in the tenancy agreement that the landlord has to maintain the property.  Ark. Code § 18-16-110

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Arkansas landlord tenant law Ark. Code 18-17-601 requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors

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Photo by Nicholas Henderson

Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Arkansas landlord tenant law Ark. Code § 18-17-602.(a), the landlord is allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting property for damages, lease violations or criminal activities
  • Showing property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors

The landlord has to inform the tenant in advance before entering the property. While the Arkansas Landlord Tenant Act doesn't spell out how long, most U.S. states require the landlord to inform the tenant at least 24 to 48 hours in advance. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

Arkansas landlord tenant law does NOT state when landlords are able to enter the property without permission.

Most other U.S. states allow the landlord to enter the property without the tenant's consent in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion
  • Tenant has abandoned or surrendered the property

We recommend including this section in your rental agreement to grant the landlord property access in the above situations.

If Tenant Refuses Landlord's Valid Request to Enter Property

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. The tenant cannot change the locks on the property without the landlord's permission as well.  Ark. Code § 18-17-602

Otherwise the landlord can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement

In addition, the landlord may also sue the tenant for actual damages plus attorney fees.  Ark. Code § 18-17-705

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Subletting

There are no specific Arkansas landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Arkansas landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy. This applies for both written and verbal leases.

For a week to week tenancy, you must give this notice at least 7 days before the termination date.  Ark. Code § 18-17-704.(a)

For a month to month tenancy, you have to give this notice at least 30 days in advance.  Ark. Code § 18-17-704.(b)

Tenant is a Victim of Domestic Abuse

If the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, the landlord CANNOT terminate (or refuse to renew) the tenancy agreement because of domestic abuse.

If the tenant is able to obtain the landlord's permission, he or she can change the locks to the property and give the landlord a copy of the new keys (as soon as possible). The landlord can also agree to change the locks himself and give the tenant a copy of the new keys. In both cases, the tenant will have to pay for the costs of changing locks.  Ark. Code § 18-16-112.(b)(2)

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Eviction

According to Arkansas landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

5 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

14 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord may terminate the tenancy after five days. If the rent is paid within five days, the tenant may stay.  Ark. Code § 18-17-701.(b)

If the tenant did not pay rent because he or she had the intention to deceive, then the landlord may also sue the tenant for attorney fees (if any).

We would like to thank Ernest B. Cates, Springdale City Attorney for the following contribution:

"I noticed that you listed 'fail to pay rent or vacate (Ark. Code Ann. 18-16-101)' as an 'eviction method' in your materials. We are very intentional in making landlords aware that this particular statute is not an eviction statute. I believe my office is only one of a few City Attorney's Offices in the entire state that will even file 'fail to pay rent or vacate' cases, as the legislature has taken the teeth out of this statute, so to speak, as the only possible penalty is a small fine."

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement, the landlord can send the tenant a 14 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within 14 days, the tenant may stay.  Ark. Code § 18-17-701.(a)

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement on purpose, then the landlord may also sue the tenant for attorney fees (if any).

Tenant is an Offender of Domestic Abuse

If the tenant is an offender of domestic abuse under court orders to stay away from a co-tenant staying in the rental property, the landlord can terminate the tenancy agreement of the tenant (who is the domestic abuser).

In addition, the landlord may also sue the tenant for any unpaid rent and damages.  Ark. Code § 18-17-701.(c)

Tenant Overstayed After Tenancy is Over

If the tenant continues staying on the property (without the landlord's consent) after the rental agreement expires or is terminated, the landlord can sue to evict the tenant.

If the tenant overstayed on purpose with the intention to deceive, the landlord can also sue the tenant for three month's rent or two times the amount of actual damages (whichever is more) PLUS attorney fees.  Ark. Code § 18-17-704.(c)

Eviction Methods

According to Arkansas landlord tenant law Ark. Code § 18-17-902, there are three methods of evicting a tenant: Unlawful Detainer, Municipal Court, Civil Eviction

Unlawful Detainer: The landlord can file an unlawful detainer action if the tenant has violated the terms of the lease agreement or failed to pay rent. If the tenant doesn't vacate the property within three days, the landlord can proceed to obtain an eviction order and sue the tenant for damages.

Municipal Court: This simpler eviction method can be only used if the tenant failed to pay rent AND refuse to vacate the property within ten days (after being informed to vacate). The landlord shall go to the legal authorities to report it as a misdemeanor - The tenant will be issued a citation and has to appear before a judge at a hearing.

Civil Eviction: If the tenant is more than five days late in paying OR the tenant fails to fix his or her lease agreement violations within 14 days, the landlord can file a complaint and supporting *affidavit with the District Court to being the eviction process. In this case, *affidavit is a written statement that the landlord swears to be true and it is signed in front of an authorized witness (notary public).

For more details on the above eviction methods, we recommend that you see pages 6 to 11 of the Arkansas Landlord Tenant Handbook.

Unlawful Eviction

According to Arkansas landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

According to the Arizona landlord tenant handbook, there are two scenarios where (it can be assumed that) the tenant has abandoned the property:

Scenario One: ALL three conditions are met

  1. Property has been vacant for an extended period
  2. Tenant did not inform the landlord that he or she will be away
  3. Tenant is late in paying rent for an extended period

Scenario Two: ALL four conditions are met

  1. Property has been vacant for an extended period
  2. Tenant did not inform the landlord that he or she will be away
  3. Tenant is late in paying rent (doesn't matter how late)
  4. Tenant has moved his or her belongings out of the property

Once the property is abandoned, the landlord may retake it and re-rent it. As long as the landlord makes a proper effort to re-rent the property at a fair rate, the abandoning tenant will be responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends.

According to AK landlord tenant law, all belongings left on a rental property are considered abandoned once the lease agreement expires or is terminated for any reason (including eviction and abandonment).

The landlord can dispose the belongings (left behind by the tenant) in any manner he or she wants. The landlord does NOT have to inform the tenant or give the tenant a chance to recover the belongings.  Ark. Code § 18-16-108

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Resources

Arkansas Landlord Tenant Law: Arkansas Landlord and Tenant Code, Arkansas Residential Landlord-Tenant Act of 2007

Arkansas Landlord Tenant Handbook: The Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook

Arkansas Landlord Tenant Rights: Arkansas Landlord and Tenant Rights

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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