Arkansas is known for being a very landlord-friendly state: Until July 2021, Arkansas was the only state in the United States to not recognize the implied warranty of habitability. Here's a rundown of what Arkansas renters and landlords should know about habitability and other key landlord-tenant laws.
Can Arkansas landlords charge an application fee?
Yes. There is no law in Arkansas that prohibits landlords from charging an application fee.
Can Arkansas landlords ask about an applicant's criminal history?
It depends. A city or county law might prohibit landlords from asking about an applicant's criminal history and running a criminal background check, but there is no statewide law on the topic.
Even if the city or county where the rental is located does not prohibit landlords from considering applicants' criminal histories, landlords must be careful. When landlords consider applicants' criminal history, they must do so in a consistent, nondiscriminatory manner. If a landlord's practice of considering criminal history has a discriminatory effect—for example, if the landlord asks only applicants of a certain color for criminal history information—the landlord is engaging in illegal discrimination and can be subject to penalties. Also, landlords can reject applicants only for past convictions that are "directly-related" to the application—in other words, convictions that have a negative bearing on a legitimate business concern of the landlord.
What is the maximum security deposit an Arkansas landlord can charge?
Arkansas landlords can charge no more than two months' rent as a security deposit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-305 (2021).) However, this limit applies only to landlords who own more than five units and any landlord (even one who owns five or fewer units) who hires someone else to manage the property. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-303 (2021).)
Do Arkansas landlords have to pay interest on security deposits?
No. Arkansas state law does not require landlords to pay interest on security deposits.
Can Arkansas landlords charge nonrefundable cleaning fees? Pet fees?
Yes. Arkansas does not prohibit nonrefundable cleaning fees or pet fees.
How long do Arkansas landlords have to return a security deposit?
Arkansas landlords must itemize withdrawals from (if any) and return all remaining security deposit within 60 days after the end of the tenancy and the tenant has handed over possession of the rental to the landlord. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-305 (2021).)
If a landlord fails to timely return the security deposit or violates the security deposit laws in another way (for example, by wrongfully withdrawing money the security deposit), the tenant can recover:
(Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-306 (2021).)
Arkansas law does not require landlords to make any specific disclosures.
What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Arkansas small claims court?
Individuals can sue in Arkansas small claims court for up to $5,000.
Arkansas law regulates some rent-related issues, such as how much a landlord can charge for a bounced check and the amount of time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction.
Is there a grace period for paying rent in Arkansas?
Yes. An Arkansas landlord can't terminate a lease or rental agreement until rent is 5 days late. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-701 (2021).) Rent is due on the date specified in the lease or rental agreement. However, if the lease or rental agreement gives the tenant a grace period longer than five days for paying rent, the landlord must honor it, and cannot consider rent to be late until after the agreed-upon grace period has passed.
How long does an Arkansas landlord have to wait after a tenant is late with rent before filing an eviction suit?
Arkansas law is tough on tenants: Once the five-day grace period has ended, a landlord can immediately file for eviction with an unconditional notice to quit (leave). This means that the landlord does not have to provide the tenant with a chance to pay the rent that is owed.
Can Arkansas landlords charge tenants a fee for bounced checks?
Yes. Arkansas law (known as the "Hot Check Law") allows landlords to charge tenants $30 for bounced checks. (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-37-304 (2021).)
Can Arkansas landlords charge tenants late rent fees?
Yes, Arkansas landlords can charge tenants a fee for paying rent late. However, late fees should always be a reasonable estimate of the cost that the landlord incurs because the rent is late (for example, any interest or collection costs), and should be disclosed in the lease or rental agreement—otherwise, a court might not enforce payment of late fees.
Can Arkansas landlords raise the rent?
Arkansas landlords cannot raise the rent during the term of a lease unless the lease specifically allows them to do so.
Arkansas law does not specify how much notice landlords must give to raise the rent in a month-to-month tenancy. Arkansas landlords must give 30 days' written notice to end a month-to-month tenancy, though. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-704(b) (2021).)
For more information, see Arkansas Late Fees, Termination for Nonpayment of Rent, and Other Rent Rules.
Can Arkansas tenants withhold rent when a landlord doesn't make repairs?
No, Arkansas tenants cannot withhold payment of rent when a landlord doesn't make repairs. In Arkansas, if a landlord fails to provide habitable premises, the only remedy is for the tenant to send landlord a written notice of the issues. If the landlord doesn't fix the problems within 30 calendar days of receiving the notice, the tenant can terminate the lease or rental agreement without penalty and receive a refund of the security deposit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-502(d) (2021).)
Can Arkansas tenants make repairs and deduct the cost (use the "repair and deduct" remedy) when a landlord doesn't make repairs?
No, Arkansas tenants cannot use the "repair and deduct" remedy when a landlord doesn't make repairs. In Arkansas, if a landlord fails to provide habitable premises, the only remedy is for the tenant to send landlord a written notice of the issues. If the landlord doesn't fix the problems within 30 calendar days of receiving the notice, the tenant can terminate the lease or rental agreement without penalty and receive a refund of the security deposit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-502(d) (2021).)
Arkansas state laws specify when and how landlords can terminate tenancies. Landlords must officially terminate a tenancy before they can file an eviction lawsuit.
Arkansas has two ways for landlords to evict a tenant who doesn't pay rent: a civil process called "unlawful detainer" and a criminal process called "failure to vacate." The unlawful detainer process is used more often than failure to vacate.
When an Arkansas tenant violates a term of the lease—such as having a pet in violation of a no-pets policy—the landlord must give the tenant a 14-day notice to cure (fix the problem) or quit (move out). If the tenant does not fix the problem or move out within those 14 days, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-701(a) (2021).)
Arkansas landlords can evict tenants who commit certain crimes at the rental, including illegal gambling, prostitution, and drug dealing. (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 18-16-501, 18-16-502 (2021).) When this happens, landlords can file an unlawful detainer suit immediately. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304(5) (2021).)
Landlords can also evict tenants who fail to maintain the rental in a safe, healthy, or habitable condition: If a tenant causes a rental to become unsafe or uninhabitable—for example, by removing the hot water heater or allowing trash to accumulate in the unit—and the condition can be fixed, the landlord must give the tenant a 14 days' written notice to fix the situation. If the tenant doesn't fix it, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer suit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-702 (2021).) If the situation is one that can't be repaired, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer suit immediately. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304(4) (2021).)
In all states, even in the absence of a statute, landlords can enter a rental without giving notice in order to deal with a true emergency (an imminent and serious threat to health, safety, or property); and when the tenant has abandoned the property (left for good).
How much notice does an Arkansas landlord have to give a renter before entering the rental?
Arkansas law does not specify how much notice landlords must give tenants before entering a rental.
Does a landlord's entry notice need to be in writing?
Arkansas law does not specify that landlords must give notice or whether any notice must be in writing.
Several other landlord-tenant laws might affect both property owners and renters in Arkansas, including:
Does Arkansas have rent control?
No. Arkansas does not have statewide rent control, nor does it allow cities or counties to enact their own rent control laws.
Can Arkansas leases and rental agreements require tenants to pay the landlord's attorneys' fees or costs of collection?
Arkansas does not have a law prohibiting landlords from requiring tenants to pay the landlord's attorneys' fees or costs of collection.
If you want to read the text of a law itself, such as state security deposit rules, start by checking citations for Arkansas landlord-tenant statutes. To access the statutes themselves, see the state section of the Library of Congress's legal research site. You can search the table of contents for the landlord-tenant statutes. Or, if you don't know the exact statute number, you can enter a keyword that is likely to be in it, such as "nonpayment of rent."
Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and anti-discrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. Many municipalities have websites—just search for the name of a particular city in Arkansas and then do a search when you're on the site.
State and Local Government on the Net and Municode (click on "Code Library" in the main menu) are good sources for finding local governments online. Also, your local public library or office of the city attorney, mayor, or city or county manager can provide information on local ordinances that affect landlords and tenants in Arkansas.
Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have enacted laws and regulations that apply to the landlord-tenant relationship in Arkansas. These laws and regulations address topics such as discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.
The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). To access the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations online, see the federal section of the Library of Congress's legal research site.
For more information on legal research, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.
You'll also find a wealth of information in Nolo's landlord-tenant books.
The following types of living arrangements are not covered by Arkansas's residential landlord-tenant laws: