A summary of Arkansas eviction laws and processes.
Table of Contents
Notice of Caused Termination
If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant before the lease expires, the landlord must have legal grounds to do so. Failure to pay rent, breaching the lease or rental agreement, failing to maintain a safe rental, or doing certain unlawful crimes are all considered legal causes in Arkansas.
Before filing an eviction action (called a “unlawful detainer” suit in Arkansas), the landlord must terminate the lease, which entails giving the tenant formal notice that the tenancy is ending. Depending on the grounds for the eviction, several sorts of notice are necessary.
Failing to Pay Rent: When evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent, Arkansas landlords have two alternatives. The landlord has the option of initiating either an illegal detainer case or a criminal eviction (called “failure to vacate”). These two strategies need distinct sorts of notification.
Method of Unlawful Detainer (civil eviction): When an Arkansas renter fails to pay rent on time, the landlord is required to wait five days. If the rent is not paid within five days of the due date, the landlord has the authority to terminate the lease by serving an unconditional notice to vacate on the tenant (move out). Arkansas Code Ann. 18-17-901 (2021).) The tenant does not have a second opportunity to pay the rent after receiving an unconditional notice to leave; the only alternative is to move out or risk eviction. The renter must have three days to depart after receiving an unconditional notice to quit. If the tenant does not vacate within three days, the landlord may launch an illegal detainer action. 18-60-304(3) (Ark. Code Ann. 2021). Civil evictions are significantly more common than the criminal eviction procedure, which is explored further below.
Method of Failure to Vacate (criminal eviction): If the renter does not pay the rent on time, the landlord may file criminal charges against the tenant. To quit the property, the landlord must offer the renter written notice of 10 days. If the renter does not depart within this period, he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor. If the renter is found guilty, the court may impose a punishment of no more than $25 every day the tenant continues in the property after the notice has expired. Arkansas Code Ann. 18-16-101 (2021).)
Lease or rental agreement violation: When an Arkansas tenant breaches a lease condition, such as possessing a pet despite a no-pets policy, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 14-day notice to remedy (address the issue) or vacate (move out). If the tenant does not resolve the issue or vacate within 14 days, the landlord may launch an illegal detainer case. 18-17-701(a) (2021) (Ark. Code Ann.)
Failure to keep a rental safe, healthy, and habitable: If a tenant causes a property to become hazardous or uninhabitable—for example, by removing the hot water heater or allowing garbage to build in the unit—and the condition is repairable, the landlord must provide the renter with 14 days’ written notice to remedy the issue. If the tenant does not make the necessary repairs, the landlord may initiate an illegal detainer claim. Arkansas Code Ann. 18-17-702 (2021).) If the condition cannot be fixed, the landlord may immediately initiate an illegal detainer claim. 18-60-304(4) (Ark. Code Ann. 2021).
Criminal Activities: The landlord may also remove a tenant if he or she commits certain criminal acts in the rented unit. Illicit gambling, prostitution, and the illegal selling of alcohol are examples of such actions. In this case, the landlord might launch an illegal detainer action right away. 18-60-304(5) (Ark. Code Ann. 2021).
Termination Without Cause Notice
If the landlord wishes to terminate a fixed-term lease but lacks legal grounds to evict the tenant, the landlord must wait until the contract expires before expecting the tenant to go. Unless the agreement expressly states otherwise, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant written notice to vacate.
If the landlord wishes to terminate a month-to-month rental but lacks legal grounds to evict the tenant, the landlord may offer the tenant a written 30-day notice to quit. This notice will advise the renter that the tenancy will end in 30 days and that the tenant must vacate the rented unit by then. If the tenant does not vacate by then, the landlord may initiate an illegal detainer case. Arkansas Code Ann. 18-17-704 (2021).)
Tenant Defenses to Eviction
Even if a landlord has a good legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant may choose to contest the eviction. The tenant may have a viable legal defense, such as the landlord neglecting to maintain the leased premises or discriminating against the renter. The tenant’s choice to fight the eviction may raise the expenses of the eviction litigation and enable the renter to stay in the rental property for a longer period of time. Tenant Defenses to Eviction in Arkansas provides further information on this topic.
eviction of the tenant
A landlord may only evict a tenant from a rental property by winning an eviction case against the renter. The landlord must never attempt to evict the tenant from the leased apartment. Even if the landlord wins the eviction action, the tenant may only be removed with a court order by a law enforcement officer. If the landlord attempts to unlawfully compel the tenant to leave the rental unit, the tenant has the right to sue for damages.
After the tenant has been evicted, the landlord may discover that the renter has left personal belongings behind. In Arkansas, this property is deemed abandoned, and the landlord may dispose of it immediately. The landlord is under no obligation to notify the renter or keep the item for any period of time before disposing of it. Arkansas Code Ann. 18-16-108 (2021).)