As an Arkansas landlord, managing rental properties can be a rewarding endeavor. However, like in any landlord-tenant relationship, challenges may arise when you rent your home, and one of the most daunting tasks you could face would be navigating the eviction laws.

Evictions are a sensitive and legally intricate aspect of rental management, requiring a comprehensive understanding of Arkansas's specific laws and regulations. Whether you're a seasoned landlord or new to the industry, you need to know the eviction procedure to ensure that you stay in compliance with the landlord-tenant laws.

Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

The first step of the process is sending the correct eviction notification. An Arkansas landlord can only evict a tenant if there is a legal ground for it terminating the lease agreement. Legal grounds include:

  • Tenant does not pay rent
  • End of lease or no lease agreement
  • Lease violation
  • Illegal activity

The amount of time will vary depending on the grounds for eviction. The following are the types of notices a landlord could send a tenant:

Nonpayment of Rent

In Arkansas, failing to pay rent within five calendar days of it being due provides legal grounds to evict a tenant. Landlords must serve a 3-day notice to quit before they can pursue a civil action for a legal eviction process. If the landlord plans to pursue a criminal eviction case, a 10-day notice to quit must first be given to tenants. If the tenant doesn’t pay the rent or vacate the rental by the end of the period, the landlord can proceed with the eviction hearing.

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No Lease or End of Lease

If a tenant remains at the property without a lease agreement or after it has ended, the landlord reserves the right to process eviction. To do this, in the State of Arkansas, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written eviction notice depending on their rent payment frequency, as follows:

  • 30-day notice to move out for month-to-month and year-to-year tenants
  • 7-day notice to move out for week-to-week tenants

If the tenant fails to move out of the rental after the period expires, the landlord can then file the lawsuit in district court.

Violation of Lease or Responsibilities

If the tenant violates the terms of the lease or fail to uphold their legal responsibilities, the landlord should serve them with a 14-day notice to comply or vacate the premises. After 14 days, the landlord can proceed with the eviction lawsuit if the tenant fails to comply or does not move out of the home. Here are the examples of tenant lease violations:

  • Neglecting upkeep, resulting in an unclean or unsanitary living space
  • Disrupting the peace and comfort of the neighbors
  • Intentional or negligent harm to the unit
  • Allowing unapproved occupants or pets to stay on the property
  • Using plumbing, electrical, or fixtures recklessly or unsafely
  • Denying the landlord access to the property

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Illegal Activity

In Arkansas, landlords are no longer required to provide tenants who are involved with illegal activities with prior written notice. Landlords can immediately file an eviction lawsuit and serve the tenant with an Immediate Notice to Vacate. The following couple of activities are considered illegal in Arkansas:

  1. Allowing a common nuisance (causing significant disruption to peaceful living)
  2. Committing a criminal offense

Tenant Eviction Defenses in Arkansas

As a defense, tenants may claim that the landlord took evictions processes that are not legal. A tenant can claim that a landlord tried to forcibly remove them by changing the door locks, removing the tenant's personal property, or shutting off essential utilities.

A tenant may also be able to claim that it's retaliatory in nature. In this case, you may find yourself in a situation where the tenant files for a court hearing.

Attending Court Hearing

If the tenant responds within the notice’s given time frame, the court will schedule a hearing. Failure to appear at the hearing results in a ruling in favor of the landlord, leading to removal from the rental.

Tenants can file an appeal, but it doesn't automatically stop the process. During the appeal, an appeal bond must be posted within five days of receiving proper notice. If the judge favors the landlord, a writ of possession is issued, and procedure continues.

Writ of Possession

In Arkansas, the Writ of Possession is a legal document delivered by a sheriff to a tenant, providing a final 24-hour notice to vacate the property. It's issued within three days of a judgment in favor of the landlord during an eviction case, indicating that the tenant must leave or face forced removal.

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The Eviction

If the tenant doesn't leave within 24 hours of getting the Writ of Possession, the sheriff can forcibly remove any locks and store the tenant's belongings in a public storage space. If needed, the sheriff can use physical restraint to prevent the tenant from interfering with the property removal. This ensures the possession of the property is transferred back to the landlord.

Bottom Line

The Arkansas eviction process can be time-consuming but understanding the laws that govern it will help it go more smoothly. As a landlord, you should also remain informed of other policies relating to security deposit laws and lease or rental agreement termination guidelines.

If you have specific questions, you have the option to hire the services of a qualified Arkansas attorney. Alternatively, you may also work with a reputable management company that is knowledgeable of the state laws, most specifically about the intricacies of the eviction procedure. If you need help, consider Pro X Property Management - Bentonville AR as your partner. Contact our team of experts who will help you rent your home, and will be more than happy to serve you!

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.