Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
Has your tenant failed to pay rent on the due date? If so, under Arkansas law, you may be able to pursue criminal charges against the tenant under the “Failure to Vacate Law”. Read on to learn more!
Arkansas is one of the most landlord-friendly states in the country. For instance, as a landlord, you have broad powers under state law (AR Code. Tit. 18. Ch. 17) to evict a tenant for lease violations.
Nonpayment of rent is inarguably one of the most common reasons for tenant eviction in Arkansas.
Now, Arkansas has the distinctive title of being the only U.S. state that criminalizes failure by a tenant to vacate their property due to nonpayment of rent.
The following is everything you should know regarding the failure to vacate law in Arkansas.
Failure to Vacate Law
This criminal statute authorizes the state of Arkansas to penalize a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.
The law only applies in non-payment of rent cases. You cannot apply the statute when a tenant, for instance, commits an illegal act while on the premises, violates the lease, or causes damage exceeding normal wear and tear.
Also, you cannot charge a tenant who is current on their rent payments.
The failure to vacate law gives tenants two options. The first option is to pay rent within a 10-day period. If the tenant does this, they will continue living on the property at the existing terms and conditions.
The other option the tenant has is to vacate the property. They must do so within a 10-day period. If they don’t, you can choose to file a criminal eviction action in court. A criminal eviction action pursues unpaid rent, possession of the property, and criminal misdemeanor charges.
If the court ruling is in your favor, the tenant will be sentenced under the failure to vacate law. The tenant can be liable to no more than $25 for each day they remain on the property after the 10-day eviction notice expires. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-101 (2021).)
Failure to Vacate Tenant Defenses
Tenants in Arkansas have a right to file an answer after being served a copy of the summons and complaint. For criminal nonpayment of rent eviction cases, tenants have up to 10 days to file their response.
The following are some of the defenses the tenant may give to stop their removal from the property.
- They paid rent within the notice period. If the tenant pays rent within 10 days, you must stop further eviction proceedings against them.
- You served an improper notice.
- You made mistakes in paperwork or legal procedures.
- You tried to evict the tenant in illegal ways, such as shutting down their utilities, removing their personal belongings, or locking them up.
For more examples of the kind of defenses a tenant can give to stop or delay their eviction, please check this guide.
If the judgment is in your favor, the court will issue you with a Writ of Possession. This will give the tenant a maximum of 24 hours to move out of the property before being forcibly removed by the sheriff.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Failure to Vacate Law Arkansas
Q: What is a notice to quit/Vacate?
A: A notice to quit/vacate is a special type of notice that landlords serve tenants when looking to evict them from their rental premises. In Arkansas, there are five types of notice to quit. That is: 3-Day Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent, 10-Day Notice to Quit for Criminal Eviction, 30-Day Notice to Vacate for End of Lease/No Lease, 14-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate for Lease Violations, and Immediate Notice to Vacate for Illegal Activity.
Q: How long do you have to move out after eviction in Arkansas?
A: It depends on the reason for the eviction. If, the reason for eviction is due to nonpayment of rent, for example, then a tenant must vacate within 3 days. If they don’t, the landlord may choose to go to court and file for a summons and complaint.
Q: How do you get someone out of your house that won’t leave in Arkansas?
A: The only way to evict someone from your property, including a family member, is to obtain a court order. Serve them an eviction notice, file a summons and complaint, attend the court hearing, and obtain a writ of possession. Evicting someone out of your property in any other way other than through the courts will fail.
Q: What rights do tenants have in Arkansas?
A: Renters in Arkansas have many rights under the state law. Including, the right to enjoy their rented premises in peace and quiet, and to seek housing without being discriminated on the basis of certain protected classes.
Q: What is a 14 Day Notice to Vacate in Arkansas?
A: This is a type of eviction notice that landlords can serve tenants who commit minor lease violations. Examples of minor lease violations that this notice can apply to include the following.
- Failure by a tenant to maintain their rented premises in a clean and sanitary manner.
- Refusing the landlord’s entry to the unit.
- Subletting the unit without the landlord’s approval.
- Using electrical, plumbing, and other fixtures in an unsafe or unreasonable manner.
- Disturbing the peace and quiet enjoyment of other persons.
- Causing careless, negligent, or deliberate damage to their rented premises.
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.
Hi, I’m Kelvin Nielsen, an experienced landlord and accomplished real estate lawyer. My focus is on answering your questions about renting in the hopes of making your life as a renter or a landlord a bit easier.