Investing in Arkansas rental properties can be a great source of income. However, it can also be stressful, especially if you end up with a bad tenant. Having to handle problematic tenants is one of the reasons why many real estate investors hesitate when investing in rentals.
One way to avoid bad tenants is to have a strict tenant screening process in place. Before accepting any applicant to rent your property, it’s important to perform all the necessary background checks.
Background and credit checks are a great way to help ensure that you’re only choosing tenants who are responsible enough to take care of your property. Also, make sure that they have the financial capabilities to pay their rent on time.
However, there are times when tenants fail to perform their duties as stated in the lease agreement. Even if you screen them well, certain circumstances could turn good tenants into problematic ones.
When this happens, eviction may be the best course of action for the landlord. That’s why it’s important to know the eviction laws in Arkansas, so you’ll know what to do when these unfortunate circumstances happen.
What Is the Eviction Process in Arkansas?
Here’s a guide:
The eviction process in Arkansas can take around two to four weeks from start to finish. However, this period could vary depending on the reason for eviction. If the tenant contests the eviction case filed by the landlord, this timeframe can take longer.
Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
Landlords in Arkansas cannot evict a tenant without a legal ground for eviction. Landlords can legally evict a tenant for the following causes:
- Non-payment or late payment of rent.
- Staying at the property after the lease ends or without a lease.
- Violation of lease terms or the Arkansas landlord-tenant law.
- Performing or being involved in any illegal activity.
In Arkansas, a tenant may be evicted for not paying rent on time. Rent is considered past due if not paid within five days after the due date unless stated on the lease agreement.
Landlords are required to give the tenant 3 days’ notice or 10 days’ notice to vacate the premises. If the tenant does not move out within the given timeframe, the landlord can proceed with the filing of an eviction lawsuit.
Tenants can also be evicted if they violate any provision indicated on the lease agreement, or if they fail to uphold their responsibilities under the landlord-tenant law in Arkansas. The landlord should give tenants a chance to fix the issue to avoid eviction.
Arkansas landlords are also required to give 14 days’ notice to the tenants before filing an eviction lawsuit. They may proceed with the legal eviction process if the tenants fail to fix the issues and still remain in the property after the given timeframe.
Lease violations that can be grounds for eviction include:
- Deliberately damaging the property.
- Violating the maximum number of people allowed to reside in the rental unit.
- Violating the no-pet policy.
- Not performing their responsibilities to maintain health and safety standards.
If the reason for eviction is because the tenant remains at the property without a lease or with a lease that has ended, the landlord must provide a 30 days’ notice before starting the eviction process. If the tenant still remains at the property after the notice ends, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
Arkansas landlords can evict a tenant who is involved in any illegal activity, including prostitution, illegal sale of alcohol, illegal use of drugs, illegal gambling, and other nuisance. The landlord may immediately file an unlawful detainer without the need to provide prior written notice.
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant without reason or for discriminatory purposes against a protected class under the Fair Housing Act.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Arkansas
In Arkansas, landlords are required to provide tenants with written notice prior to the eviction process, except when the grounds for eviction are due to illegal activities.
The notice must either be hand delivered by a sheriff of the county or sent through certified or registered mail. Landlords should maintain a received copy of the notice as proof of proper service of notice.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in Arkansas
The defense is a reason why the petitioner (in this case, the landlord) shouldn’t win the case. The following are considered illegal evictions in Arkansas. However, the law did not specify the exact repercussions of illegal eviction.
- The landlord tried to forcibly remove them by changing the locks, removing their belongings, or cutting off utilities.
- The landlord is evicting them because of retaliatory reasons.
Attending Court Hearing in Arkansas
The tenant is given 5 to 10 business days to file an answer or contest the eviction complaint. If the tenant files an answer within the given timeframe, the clerk of the court in Arkansas will set a hearing date for the eviction proceeding.
If the tenant does not appear for the hearing, the judge will automatically rule in favor of the landlord. If the Arkansas judge rules in favor of the landlord, the court will issue a writ of possession, and the actual eviction will proceed.
Writ of Possession
In Arkansas, the Writ of Possession is issued within three days from the date the judge rules in favor of the landlord. The writ of possession is served to a tenant by a sheriff. This will give the tenant a final 24 hours’ notice to move out of the property before being forcibly removed.
If the tenant still remains at the property 24 hours after receiving the Writ of Possession, the sheriff may forcibly remove all locks and place the tenant’s personal belongings in a public warehouse or storage location.
If tenants try to interfere with the removal of their belongings, the sheriff has the right to physically restrain them if necessary.
Having to deal with bad tenants can cause big stress for landlords. If you don’t want to personally handle this process, it’s best to hire an experienced and reliable property manager, like Keyrenter Arkansas, to do the work for you.
For any specific legal questions, it’s best to talk to a qualified attorney. You can also work with a Fayetteville property management company to help you with your property management needs. Contact Keyrenter Arkansas at 479-662-1800.
Disclaimer: This content isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Laws change and this information may also not be updated at the time you read it. If you have a question regarding the Arkansas landlord-tenant laws, Keyrenter Arkansas can help.