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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 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.

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.

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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

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