The Eviction Process in Arkansas: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers

An overview of Arkansas eviction rules, forms, and procedures.

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.

Notice for Termination With Cause

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.

  • Failure to Pay Rent: A landlord has two options when evicting a tenant for failing to pay rent. The landlord can file a civil lawsuit against the tenant, also called an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Or the landlord can file criminal charges against the tenant. This is known as the failure to vacate method. These two different methods require different types of notice. (See the  Office of the Attorney General  and  Arkansas Legal Services  for more information on these two methods.)
    • Unlawful Detainer Method: If the landlord wishes to evict the tenant using the unlawful detainer method (which is a civil action), then the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice to quit. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has three days to move out of the rental unit, or the landlord will terminate the tenancy and file an unlawful detainer lawsuit against the tenant (see  Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304(3)).
    • Failure to Vacate Method: If the landlord wishes to evict the tenant using the failure to vacate method (which is a criminal action), then the landlord must give the tenant a ten-day notice to quit. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has ten days to move out of the rental unit. If the tenant remains in the rental unit longer than ten days, the tenant will be fined $25 per day for every day thereafter. At the end of the ten days, the landlord can file criminal charges against the tenant if the tenant remains living in the rental unit (see  Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-101).

The landlord should  consult an attorney  with any questions regarding these two methods.

  • Violation of the Lease or Rental Agreement: The landlord can also evict the tenant for violating the lease or rental agreement. In this situation, the landlord must give the tenant a 14-day notice to remedy. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has 14 days to remedy the violation or the landlord will terminate the tenancy. If the tenant does not fix the violation within 14 days, then the landlord can file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant (see  Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-701).
  • Criminal Actions: The landlord can also evict the tenant for committing certain criminal acts at the rental unit. These acts include illegal gambling, prostitution, and the illegal sale of alcohol. In this situation, the landlord can give the tenant an unconditional quit notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy immediately and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit within three days. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit, then the landlord can file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant (see  Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304).

Notice for Termination Without Cause

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.

Month-to-Month Tenancy

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).

Fixed-Term Lease

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.

Tenant Eviction Defenses

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.

Removal of the Tenant

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.

Rationale for the Rules

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.

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