renters rights without a lease

Arkansas Tenant Rights Without A Lease

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Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Kelvin Nielsen

Even without a lease, Arkansas tenants enjoy certain rights under the statewide landlord-tenant law. Read on to learn more!

A lease is a legally binding agreement. It runs for a specific period of time, usually between 6 months and a year. During this time, both parties must abide by all its terms. However, it’s also possible for a tenant to continue living on a rental property without a lease.

In Arkansas, a tenant without a lease is referred to as a tenant at will. They live at their rented premises at the will of the landlord, meaning the landlord can evict them at any time. But even without a signed document, a tenant at will has certain legal protections.

If you’re a tenant in Arkansas without a lease, the following are the rights you have under state law (AR Code. Tit. 18. Ch. 17).

Tenant Rights without a Lease in Arkansas

If you’re paying rent, then you have more or less the same rights as a tenant who is on the lease. The following are the rights you are able to enjoy.

1. Right to have repairs specified in the rental agreement.

The state of Arkansas is one of the most landlord-friendly states in the country. Landlords are able to rent their properties “as is”, and are not generally required to make repairs unless promised in the lease agreement, among other things.

So, check what your lease says. If it says your landlord is responsible for fixing certain things, then you have a right to have them fixed. And in such a case, the landlord must make the repairs within 30 days of serving them proper notice.

If your landlord fails to do so, you have the option of ending the agreement without penalty. Please note that, unlike some other states, tenants in Arkansas don’t have a right to withhold rent or the right to “repair and deduct” when it comes to repairs.

2. Right to be evicted through proper means.

Even without a lease in Arkansas, your landlord cannot evict you anyhowly. They cannot, for instance, try to evict you by doing any of the following things.

  • Shutting down your utilities.
  • Removing your personal belongings from the unit.
  • Locking you out.

These are examples of “self-help” eviction tactics and are illegal. The only way the landlord can evict you is by obtaining a court order.

Common reasons for tenant eviction in Arkansas include nonpayment of rent, lease violation, tenant at will, and illegal acts.

3. Right to exercise a legal right.

As a tenant in Arkansas, state law gives you certain legal rights. Your landlord must not harass, demean, or take any other action for doing any of the following.

  • Complaining to a health inspector in your locality about an immediate health risk.
  • Joining or forming a tenants’ union to advance your rights.
  • Turning down proposed changes to a lease mid-tenancy.

If your landlord retaliates against you for doing any of these things, you should report them right away. Common ways in which landlords retaliate against their tenants include the following.

  • Increasing your rent.
  • Terminating the lease without a just cause.
  • Removing your belongings.
  • Decreasing access to amenities.
  • Changing locks.

4. Right to the return of your security deposit.

Arkansas, just like other states, requires landlords to abide by certain security deposit laws. Which include the following:

  • Limiting the amount of security deposit a landlord can charge you. The maximum is capped at the equivalent of 2 months’ rent.
  • Returning the deposit, minus any appropriate deductions, within 60 days.

In addition, landlords can be penalized for wrongfully withholding their tenants’ deposits. You can sue up to 2X the amount wrongfully withheld, plus court and attorney fees.

5. Right to be notified prior to termination of a periodic lease.

Your landlord must provide proper notice if they wish to terminate your lease in Arkansas. The amount of notice to serve will depend on the rent payment frequency. If you’re paying rent on a weekly basis, then the landlord must provide you with a minimum notice of 7 days. If you are paying rent on a monthly basis, then they must serve you a minimum notice of 30 days.

What’s more, the law also grants Arkansas tenants who are on a fixed-term lease the right to break their lease under certain circumstances.

  • If starting an active military career
  • In case of landlord harassment
  • In case of a privacy violation
  • If the tenant is a domestic violence victim

6. Right to fair treatment under Arkansas fair housing laws.

As a tenant in Arkansas, you’re protected against discrimination by your landlord based on the following protected classes.

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Disability
  • Familial status

For instance, it’d be illegal for your landlord to ask you the following screening questions.

  • Are you gay?
  • How many children do you have?
  • Is that a service dog?
  • Are you married?
  • Are you a Christian?
  • Where are you originally from?

If you have reasons to believe you’ve been discriminated against based on these classes, you can report your landlord to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Arkansas Tenant Rights Without a Lease

Q: Can a landlord evict someone without a lease in Arkansas?

A: Yes. A tenant without a lease is known as a tenant at will or a tenant at sufferance. The landlord must follow the proper eviction process in order to remove them from the property. First, the landlord must terminate the tenancy by serving them an eviction notice (30 Day Notice to Vacate).

Secondly, the landlord must move to court and file a complaint. After successful filing, the court will issue the landlord with a summons and complaint. Next, you’ll have a chance to respond. You may be able to stop the eviction by giving these defenses.

Thirdly, the court will give its verdict. If you win the right to continue living on the property, great. However, if you don’t, the court will issue the landlord with a writ of possession, and you’ll have no other option but to move out.

Q: What rights do tenants have in Arkansas?

A: As a tenant in Arkansas, you have a myriad of rights under the statewide landlord-tenant law.

Q: How long does a landlord have to evict you in Arkansas?

A: From start to finish, expect the eviction process in Arkansas to take anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks. It may also take longer than this depending on the exact reason for eviction and whether or not the tenant fights their removal.

Q: What can a landlord not do in Arkansas?

A: There are various things that a landlord cannot do in Arkansas. Such as, discriminate against you, harass you, raise rent as a retaliatory tactic, or evict you using “self-help” tactics. Here is a comprehensive guide.

Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.

Sources: AR Code. Tit. 18. Ch. 17, Arkansas Law Help, Arkansas Democrat Gazette.