Fayetteville Law Firm | Booneville Law Firm

Renters Rights in Arkansas

Renters in Arkansas have very few rights. Arkansas is actually the only state in the U.S. that does not require landlords to maintain the property to be safe and livable. While there have been attempts to change these laws in Arkansas, so far, they have all failed. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself while renting.

Environmental testing

Do you know whether the home you are renting has ever been used as a drug lab or has mold that can cause health hazards? Some drug residue can remain on the walls, in the carpet, and on other soft surfaces long after the offenders have moved out. Just moving your belongings into that property can contaminate your stuff as well.

The DEA maintains a database of former drug labs that you can search to see if your residence is listed. You can also buy an air quality testing kit to test for many types of allergens and health hazards. While your landlord may not let you break your lease if harmful substances are found, you may be able to negotiate a mutual termination, or request that termination penalties be waived.

How well do you know your neighbors?

Landlords in Arkansas are not required to tell you if a registered sex offender lives in your complex or neighborhood. And if they do not perform background checks on prospective tenants, they may not even know themselves. However, Arkansas maintains a database of registered sex offenders that is easily searchable. 

Who owns the property?

Imagine this. You respond to an ad for a house for rent and set an appointment to take a tour. The house is exactly what you are looking for and Jack the Landlord produces a lease agreement for you to sign. You pay the deposit, first and last month’s rent, and are set to move in. Maybe you actually move in and things are going well — until suddenly they aren’t. One day Jill the Owner shows up with the police saying that you are trespassing. See, Jill the Owner doesn’t know Jack the Landlord, and you are now caught up in a rental scam.

It’s not your fault, but Jill the Owner wants you out.

Jack the Landlord is now long gone, with your money.

Now how do you keep this from happening again? Or how do you prevent this situation in the first place?

In Arkansas, property records are public. A quick search of the county records will tell you who owns the property and will give you his or her address. If the county says Jill owns the house but Jack is taking your money, dig a little deeper. Jack may very well be a legitimate property manager, but in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Get renter’s insurance.

Renter’s insurance is an inexpensive way to protect your property in the event of a disaster like a fire or flood. The owner’s insurance policy will most likely not include reimbursement for any of your property — only theirs. Additionally, if someone is hurt in your home or apartment, you could be responsible for their injuries.

Get it in writing.

Regardless of the terms of your lease agreement, always get it in writing. If your landlord agrees to fix the dishwasher, mow the lawn once a month, or pay for the water bill, make sure those items are referenced in the lease. If it isn’t in writing, it is hard to prove if you end up in a dispute.

What to Look for in Your Lease

Before you sign the lease on your new apartment, condo, or house, it’s important to know exactly what you’re signing up for. Unlike Apple’s terms and conditions, this isn’t something you can just agree to without reading. (Though we recommend reading all terms and conditions that you sign). Not understanding your lease can put you in legal trouble later on, but can also affect your ability to even live in the property you’ve just signed for. Here are a few key items to look for and ensure you understand on your lease:

  • Term: The first factor to consider within your lease is what the term of the lease is. If the term of the lease is longer than the time you are able to stay there, it might not be the best fit as you will have to terminate the lease early and might be subject to additional costs, fines, and obstacles. 
  • Pets: Many people chose to have a furry companion live with them. However, not every rental property allows for pets to live in the property. Some properties don’t want to risk the possible property damage or issues from shedding dogs. Some simply don’t want the added liability or nuisance of having pets in an apartment complex or condo. Because this is (and should be) a make-or-break option for a pet owner signing a lease, it is important that you know whether your four legged friend will be allowed before you sign. Communication with the landlord or property manager is important so that they know exactly what kind of pet you will be bringing with you; they might be more willing to amend the lease to allow your 8 pound hairless cat, but perhaps not for your 90 pound lab. 
  • Utilities: for some rental locations, the property will pay a portion of utilities. The lease should outline whether you, as the renter, are responsible for all or a portion of the utilities. This will let you know which services you need to set up upon move-in so that you don’t move in without running water ready. 
  • When the landlord can enter: Another tricky provision to watch out for is one that allows your landlord or property manager to enter your apartment or home at any time. Some provisions of leases allow for entrance only with permission of the tenant or in case of emergencies, but some allow for entrance of the landlord at any time without express permission of the tenants. If you want to have permission required for entrance except in emergency, be sure to communicate with your landlord so that the lease states that. 
  • Base rent/additional charges/late fees: Be sure that you know the totality of what you’re paying each month. Obviously, you should know the base rent price and that it will be paid on time each month, but it’s important to know when the payment must be made (the first of the month, or the fifth, or another specified date), and also what the late fee will be if rent is not paid on time. Some leases also require some additional expenses every month such as a pet rent, neighborhood expenses, or something similar. 

Reading your lease before signing and having communication with your landlord is key to ensuring that no surprises pop up mid-year and that you are aware of what is expected of you. Happy renting!

Leave a Reply


Fayetteville Law Office

(479) 935-8313

909 Rolling Hills Dr.
Fayetteville, AR 72703

Booneville Law Office

(479) 935-8060

4 Village Loop
Booneville, AR 72927

Make a Payment