Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
Just like tenants, landlords in Arkansas have certain rights under the statewide landlord-tenant law (AR Code. Tit. 18. Ch. 17). As a landlord, some of the rights you have include the following.
- Right to charge a security deposit as part of the initial move-in costs.
- Right to evict a tenant for violating the terms of the lease agreement. Such as, failing to pay rent or violating a term of the lease agreement.
- Right to enter a tenant’s rented premises.
That said, just like everything else in life, there is a limit to just how much power and authority you can wield over your tenant. In other words, there are certain things that you cannot do when renting out a property in Arkansas.
8 Things a Landlord Cannot Do in Arkansas
1. Trying to evict your tenant through illegal means.
No matter the circumstances, you must not try to evict your tenant in illegal ways. Firstly, to begin the eviction process in Arkansas, you must have a just cause. Legal causes in Arkansas include the following.
- Nonpayment of rent.
- Failure to abide by the terms of the lease agreement.
- No lease or end of a lease term.
- Illegal acts.
Next, you must follow the proper eviction process depending on the just cause. The following is a basic overview of what you may need to do.
- File a lawsuit in court if the matter is still unresolved.
- Obtain a copy of the summons and complaint and have it served to the tenant by a process server like a sheriff.
- Wait for the tenant to file an answer. These are some of the reasons they may give to stop their eviction.
- If the judgment is in your favor, the court will issue you with a Writ of Possession, giving you possession of the property back.
Illegal eviction methods in Arkansas include locking the tenant out, removing their belongings, and shutting off utilities. Taking any of these actions will not only cause the eviction to fail, but you may also find yourself in legal trouble as well.
2. Wrongfully withholding your tenant’s security deposit.
This is another thing that you must not do in Arkansas. Of course, state law gives you the right to require tenants to pay a security deposit prior to moving in. Be that as it may, there are certain rules that you must abide by when it comes to how much you can collect, what deductions you can make, and when you must return it.
The following are some of the rules you must abide by as per Arkansas security deposit laws.
- The maximum security deposit you can collect from your tenant shouldn’t exceed 2 months’ rent.
- You must return the deposit (or whatever remains) within 60 days.
- You must only make allowable deductions. Such as, to clear unpaid utilities, rent due, or damage exceeding normal wear and tear.
Wrongfully withholding your tenant’s security deposit comes with a penalty. You may be made to pay twice the wrongfully withheld amount, plus court and attorney fees.
Here is a guide on Arkansas security deposit rules.
3. Discriminating against your tenant.
Fair housing laws require landlords to treat their tenants fairly, equally, and respectfully. You must not discriminate against your tenant based on their race, color, sex, nationality, disability, religion, and familial status.
Doing so, either deliberately or negligently, can get you into legal trouble with Arkansas’ Attorney General who is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination laws.
An example of how discrimination can occur is by asking the wrong questions when screening prospective tenants. For example, asking a tenant:
- Where are you originally from?
- Are you married?
- Are you pregnant?
- How many children do you have?
- Are you gay?
- Are you a Christian?
- Is that a service dog?
- Are you Hispanic or Latino?
So, before you start renting out your property, first begin by familiarizing yourself with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
4. Harassing your tenant.
This is illegal in Arkansas as it is elsewhere in the country. You must not try to create conditions that are designed to encourage a tenant to leave. Examples of landlord harassment in Arkansas include:
- Entering your tenant’s rented premises an unreasonable number of times.
- Asking for sexual favors from your tenant.
- Falsifying the eviction charges.
- Disrupting the peace and quiet enjoyment of your tenant.
- Removing your tenant’s belongings from the unit.
- Locking your tenant out.
- Shutting off utilities promised in the lease agreement.
- Refusing a rent payment to intimidate your tenant.
Here is a guide on tenant harassment in Arkansas.
5. Retaliating against your tenant for exercising a legal right.
Just like landlord harassment, landlord retaliation comes in many shapes and forms. As already mentioned, state law (AR Code. Tit. 18. Ch. 17) provides both parties certain rights.
The following are examples of rights your Arkansas tenant is able to enjoy after a rental relationship is established.
- Forming or joining a tenant’s union to advance or fight for their rights.
- Reporting you to local officials for code violations.
After a tenant exercises such rights, it’d be illegal for you to retaliate against them by doing any of the following things.
- Raising the rent amount.
- Starting eviction proceedings against them.
- Terminating the lease agreement.
You can read more about landlord retaliation laws in Arkansas here.
6. Refusing tenants who have service animals.
Even with a “no pets” policy, you must allow tenants with service animals or emotional support animals to rent your property. You see, service pets are no ordinary pets. They are working animals that have been trained to provide comfort or emotional support to an individual.
In addition, “disability” is a protected class under the Federal Fair Housing Act.
7. Refusing to make requested repairs.
Landlords in Arkansas aren’t generally responsible for making repairs. You only become responsible for making repairs that you have specified in the lease agreement. In this case, you must make those repairs within 30 days of being notified by your tenant.
If you fail to do the repairs within the specified timeframe, your tenant may be able to terminate their lease legally without penalty.
8. Failing to make a disclosure on use of lead-based paint.
If you own a home built prior to 1978, Arkansas law requires that you provide tenants with information regarding the use of lead-based paint.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on What Landlords Cannot Do in Arkansas
Q: What rights do landlords have in Arkansas?
- Collecting rent.
- Enforcing the terms of the lease agreement.
- Evicting a tenant for violation of the lease.
- Collecting a security deposit.
- Enter rented premises to perform crucial responsibilities.
Q: Can a landlord enter without permission in Arkansas?
A: Yes! Arkansas doesn’t specify how much notice landlords must give their tenants prior to entering their rented premises. As a landlord, you can enter whenever and for whatever reasons, unless it violates certain agreed-upon conditions mentioned in the lease.
Q: Do tenants have rights in Arkansas?
A: Of course they do! Here is a guide to renters’ rights in Arkansas.
Q: How often can a landlord raise rent in Arkansas?
A: Arkansas doesn’t have a rent control law. Also, state law prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting rent control laws. As such, as a landlord, you aren’t limited by how much rent you can charge or by how much you can raise it by. That said, how much you charge or raise it by must not be a retaliatory act, discriminatory, or against the lease agreement.
There you have it – things that you cannot do when renting out a property in Arkansas. That’s why it’s important for landlords to familiarize themselves with the AR Landlord-Tenant Law before renting out a property. This will ensure that you have a firm grip on your legal responsibilities, which can help you avoid unnecessary legal issues with your tenant.
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.