Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
To successfully evict a tenant from your Arkansas rental property for nonpayment of rent, you need to strictly follow state and local law. You cannot try to evict the tenant illegally by locking them out or removing their belongings from the property.
Under Arkansas law, the only way a landlord can evict a tenant is by obtaining a court order (Writ of Possession). And even then, it’s only the sheriff that can forcibly evict the tenant from the property.
If you’re a landlord looking to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent in Arkansas, here’s everything you need to know.
How to Evict a Tenant for Nonpayment of Rent in Arkansas
The following is the step-by-step process on how to go about the process.
Serve the Tenant with an Eviction Notice
To begin the eviction process against a tenant, you must first have a legitimate reason. In the state of Arkansas, legal causes for eviction include nonpayment of rent, violation of a lease term, staying after the lease has expired, and committing an illegal activity.
When it comes to nonpayment of rent, state law requires that you serve the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit for a civil action. This applies when the tenant is late on paying rent and the balance due isn’t paid within the 5 calendar day grace period. The three days don’t include weekends and holidays.
If the tenant doesn’t pay the balance within 5 days, you can serve them another eviction notice – a 10-Day Notice to Quit. This is a criminal eviction notice that gives the tenant up to 10 days to either pay the balance due or move out.
A criminal eviction action pursues three important things. That is, the unpaid rent balance, possession of the property, and criminal charges against the tenant if they refuse to move out on their own.
File a Lawsuit with the Court
If the notice ends without the tenant leaving, you can move on to the next step and file a complaint in court. If taking a civil action against the tenant, you must file the lawsuit in either a Circuit Court or a District Court.
For criminal nonpayment of rent evictions, you can request an order for eviction.
After notarization by the court’s clerk, a summons and complaint will be issued. A copy will need to be served to the tenant by either a sheriff, their deputy, or a process server. It’s also possible to send the documents via certified mail or first-class mail.
Arkansas law doesn’t specify how quickly a summons and complaint must be served on the tenant.
Next, the tenant will need to file an answer. This is required of Arkansas tenants. An answer is simply a defense against an eviction. Here are some defenses Arkansas tenants can give to stop their eviction.
For nonpayment of rent eviction cases, tenants will have up to 10 days to file their contest with the court. A hearing will then be scheduled after receipt of the written response.
Attend the Court Hearing
If the tenant chooses not to attend the hearing, the court will most probably rule in the favor of the landlord. You will then need to order a writ of possession.
That said, the tenant may still be able to appeal the ruling but that won’t stop the eviction. To appeal a ruling for eviction in Arkansas, tenants need to give an appeal bond for the court-determined amount.
Removal of the Tenant
If the ruling is in your favor, either through a default hearing or through a successful hearing, the tenant will have no option but to leave. The Writ of Possession gives the tenant a final notice of 24 hours.
If the tenant doesn’t leave within this notice period, the sheriff will return and forcibly remove them. The writ gives the sheriff the right to remove all locks and store the tenant’s personal belongings in a public warehouse.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Evict a Tenant for Nonpayment of Rent in Arkansas
Q: How can you evict a family member in Arkansas?
Q: How do I evict someone who is not on the lease in Arkansas?
Q: How far behind in rent should a tenant be before being evicted in Arkansas?
A: In Arkansas, landlords can begin eviction proceedings against a tenant for nonpayment of rent immediately the rent is late. As such, a landlord can start the process after the legal 5 calendar day grace period.
Q: What is the failure to vacate law in Arkansas?
A: This is a criminal statute that authorizes the state of Arkansas to impose fines and other criminal penalties upon a tenant for failing to pay rent on time. You can read more about the statute here.
Q: How long does the eviction process take in Arkansas?
A: From start to finish, the process can take anywhere between two and four weeks. It can also take longer depending on the reason for the eviction and whether or not the tenant fights it in court.
Disclaimer: 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: (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304(3) (2021), (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-101 (2021), Arkansas Code Title 18 Chapters 16 & 17.
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.