In Arkansas, evictions are governed by the Arkansas Code, and landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures set forth by the Arkansas Code when evicting a tenant. Otherwise, the eviction might not be valid.
This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in Arkansas.
If a landlord wants to evict a tenant before the tenant's lease or rental agreement has expired, the landlord must have legal cause. In Arkansas, legal cause includes failing to pay rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing certain illegal acts. The first step in the eviction process is terminating the tenancy. The landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant written notice. Different types of notice are required depending on the reason for the eviction.
The landlord should consult an attorney with any questions regarding these two methods.
If a landlord wants to evict a tenant but does not have legal cause, the landlord must wait until the term of the tenancy has expired before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord may still need to give the tenant written notice to move.
If the landlord wants to end a month-to-month tenancy but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord can give the tenant a written 30-day notice to vacate. This notice will inform the tenant that the tenancy will terminate in 30 days and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. If the tenant does not move out by that time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-704).
If the landlord wants to end a fixed-term lease but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord will have to wait until the lease has expired before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord does not need to give the tenant written notice to move unless the terms of the lease specifically require the landlord to do so.
Even though a landlord has a valid legal reason to evict a tenant, the tenant might still decide to fight the eviction. The tenant could have a valid legal defense, such as the landlord failing to maintain the premises of the rental unit or the landlord discriminating against the tenant. The tenant's decision to fight the eviction could increase the costs of the eviction lawsuit and allow the tenant more time to remain living in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Arkansas has more information on this subject.
The only way a landlord can remove a tenant from a rental unit is by winning an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. The landlord must never try to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit. Even after the landlord wins the eviction lawsuit, the tenant can only be removed by a law enforcement officer with a court order. If the landlord tries to illegally force the tenant to move out of the rental unit, the tenant can sue the landlord for damages. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Arkansas has more information.
After the tenant has been evicted, the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property. In Arkansas, this property is considered abandoned, and the landlord can immediately dispose of it. The landlord is not required to contact the tenant or hold onto the property for any length of time before disposing of it (see Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-108). Handling a Tenant's Abandoned Property in Arkansas has more information for landlords in this situation.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Arkansas law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.