Are you a tenant?
- Insist on a written lease from your landlord. Read it carefully! Do not sign it if it does not contain a promise that the landlord will repair the premises.
- Inspect the premises before you move in. Take pictures of any problems that you see, make a list and sign it, and ask the landlord to sign it. Ask the landlord to state in writing that he/she will repair or clean up any problems.
- Is your landlord trying to evict you for no good reason? Try to get a lawyer. Tenants with lawyers fare better in court. The Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas represent tenants who meet their requirements. Both groups also offer many free self-help forms on their website.
- If you are a tenant in public housing, or a Section 8 tenant, you actually have more rights than other Arkansas tenants. HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) is a good starting point because it regulates these types of housing.
Are you a landlord?
- Screen potential tenants before you rent to them, but be aware of laws prohibiting discrimination.
- Just as you expect tenants to keep their promises to you, keep yours to them, and give tenants a fair deal.
- Use only legal means to terminate tenancies. Changing the locks, removing the doors, turning off utilities or threatening to call the police without a court order are examples of self help, which is prohibited by Arkansas law.
- Be aware of how few rights tenants have under Arkansas law, compared to all other states. Don’t be misled by misinformation circulated by some of the landlord groups.
- If your rental housing is subject to local housing code, make sure you are in compliance. This can minimize the risk of disputes with your tenants.
Are you a voter?
- Contact your Arkansas Senator and Representative. Ask them if they support the implied warranty of habitability and repeal of the failure to vacate statute in Arkansas. Refer them to this website. Don’t know who your elected representatives are? This website can help.
- When candidates for office ask you to vote for them, ask them if they support the implied warranty of habitability and repeal of the failure to vacate statute in Arkansas, or whether they favor Arkansas’s current place, dead last in tenants’ rights. Refer them to this website.
- Find out whether your local government has enacted a local housing code. If not, work for the enactment of one. Landlords can be held accountable to local housing codes even if no state warranty of habitability exists. Beware though if you are a tenant who reports your landlord for a code violation. If you are on a month-to-month lease your landlord can terminate your lease in retaliation, and you may have no rights.
- Remember that your voice and vote count! There are many, many more tenants than landlords and if tenants united the law would quickly change!