Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
The Arkansas Fair Housing Act is codified at A.C.A. §§ 16-123-201 through — 210 (Supp. 2001). It was signed into law by Governor Jim Guy Tucker on April 14, 1995.
The act prohibits housing providers like landlords and home buyers from discriminating against tenants and home sellers on the basis of certain protected classes.
Whether you’re just starting out as a landlord or are looking to learn more about Arkansas Fair Housing Laws, this blog has you covered.
What is the Federal Fair Housing Act?
The Federal Fair Housing Act is contained in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. It was passed by Congress on April 11, 1968, and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.
It prohibits discrimination in the rental, sale, advertising, and financing of housing on the basis of the following 7 protected classes.
- Familial status
These groups are considered “protected classes” under the act and its amendments.
What are the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act in Arkansas?
Some states have laws that have added extra protections. However, the state of Arkansas isn’t one of these states. As such, the protections in Arkansas are similar to those offered at the federal level.
That is: race, color, nationality, sex, disability, religion, and familial status.
Who Enforces the Fair Housing Act in Arkansas?
At the state level, the government agency tasked with enforcing the fair housing laws is the state’s Fair Housing Commission. The commission works in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to enforce the rules and regulations.
What is the penalty for violating the Fair Housing Act in Arkansas?
Violating the Arkansas Fair Housing Act (FHA) can lead to hefty financial and legal repercussions. If found guilty by the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission, you may be liable to pay the tenant damages, as well as attorney and court costs.
First-time violators can be liable to a civil penalty amounting to up to $11,000. If you have committed one prior violation, the civil penalties can amount to up to $27,500. For three or more violations that have been committed within a 5-year period, the civil penalties can amount to up to $55,000. AR Code § 16-123-332 (2019).
What Actions can be Considered Discriminatory under the Arkansas Fair Housing Act?
As a landlord, the following are acts that you’ll want to stay away from lest you be accused of discrimination by your tenant.
- Refusing to rent out your property to a prospective tenant because of their race, color, nationality, or any other protected class.
- Charging tenants different rent because they belong to a different race, color, nationality, or any other protected class.
- Providing tenants with different terms and conditions because of a protected class.
- Advertising your rental property in a discriminative way. For instance, saying that you prefer one gender over another, or saying your property is ideal for Christians only.
- Harassing your tenant because of their race, color, sex, or any other protected class.
What are the Exemptions to the Arkansas Fair Housing Act?
The following are the exceptions to the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
- Owner-occupied housing that has four or fewer units.
- A single-family housing that the landlord rents out without using a broker.
- Housing that is operated by a private club or a religious organization.
- Housing that is used for commercial services, such as a motel or a hotel.
- A disabled person whose disability can pose a direct threat to the safety and health of others.
(§ 3603, 3604, 3607).
How can Arkansas Landlords Protect Themselves against Potential Fair Housing Accusations?
The following are some tips to keep in mind when renting out a property in Arkansas.
- Familiarize yourself with the Fair Housing Act. Know the state’s protected classes to avoid making any discriminatory statements during your interaction with the tenant.
- Administer the rental rules fairly and consistently, regardless of a tenant’s race, color, religion, nationality, religion, sex, or disability.
- Document all interactions you have with your tenant. Including, responses to maintenance issues, rental applications, and tenant complaints.
- Market your property in a non-discriminatory manner. Avoid using certain statements that land you in trouble. For instance, “Ideal for Males,” “Young Professionals Preferred,” “No Children,” and “No Dogs Allowed.”
- Ask proper screening questions. Avoid asking questions that touch on a tenant’s protected class. Such as: Are you pregnant? How many children do you have? Are you a Christian? Are you gay? Is that a service dog?
- Honor reasonable requests a disabled tenant may have regarding certain accommodations and modifications. An example of a reasonable accommodation you can make is allowing a service animal, even with a “no pets” policy in place. An example of a reasonable modification would be something like installing ramps or widening doorways.
Frequently Asked Questions: Arkansas Fair Housing Act
Q: Who is the director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission?
A: Currently, the director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission is Iverson Jackson. He is a pastor and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.
Q: What does the Arkansas Fair Housing Act say about emotional support animals?
A: Disability is a protected class under the state’s fair housing laws. Under the fair housing laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landlords have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to tenants. Allowing a disabled tenant to keep an emotional support animal is a good example of this.
Q: What Types of Housing does the Arkansas Fair Housing Law Cover?
The Arkansas Fair Housing Laws covers all types of residential dwellings. Including, public housing, private housing, residential hotels, dormitories, vacation homes, nursing homes, and group homes.
Sources: Arkansas Code Title 18 Chapters 16 & 17, https://ig.arkansas.gov/fair-housing/laws/, https://a.arlawhelp.org/landlord-tenant/fair-housing, https://a.arlawhelp.org/landlord-tenant/fair-housing.
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.