The Basics of Arkansas Abandoned Property Law

Check out Jerry’s guide to Arkansas abandoned property law—we’ll go over what you should do with abandoned homes, vehicles, personal property, and more.
Written by Katherine Duffy
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Whether you’re trying to navigate Arkansas abandoned home, vehicle, or personal property laws, we’re here to walk you through the basics of all three. If you’re looking for abandoned or unclaimed property, the
Arkansas State Auditor
can help you find it. 
Maybe you’re a landlord, and your last tenant has left a few pieces of furniture in the unit, and you’re not sure what to do with them. Or perhaps you own a vacation home in
Hot Springs
that you haven’t checked on in a few months. You may have even spotted a classic car gem in a public parking lot that hasn’t moved in weeks, and you’re wondering what happens if the owner never comes back. 
If you’re in a position similar to the ones listed above, you’ve come to the right place.
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Arkansas abandoned home law 

The cases for overtaking abandoned property are few and far between, but it’s important to be armed with the basics of Arkansas abandoned home laws as a homeowner. 
Whether you’re interested in using abandoned property or trying to protect your property, here’s the 101 on Arkansas abandoned home laws. 

What qualifies as an abandoned home in Arkansas? 

Arkansas law doesn’t have clear legislation on what qualifies as an abandoned home. This is great news if you make consistent mortgage payments—as long as you don’t default on your mortgage, your lender cannot begin the foreclosure process and remove the property from your possession. 
This doesn’t totally cover you from home abandonment, though. You also need to ensure you’re paying your property taxes on time each year, even if you haven’t visited the property in years. This will protect you from an adverse possession claim, which is how another person can legally seek ownership of your property, especially if it appears abandoned. 
What is an adverse possession claim? 
In Arkansas, a squatter can make an adverse possession claim if they’ve continuously occupied the property for seven years and have paid property taxes the entire time they’ve been there. 
Squatters also need to fulfill five other legal requirements to make an adverse possession claim for the property they’ve been occupying: 
  • Occupation is hostile or without permission and against the right of the true owner.
  • Occupation is actual, which means the squatter exercises control over the real property.
  • Occupation is open and notorious, which means the squatter is using the property as the owner would and doesn’t hide their occupancy.
  • Occupation is exclusive, meaning the property is in the possession of the individual occupying the real property alone.
  • Occupation is continuous, meaning the squatter must’ve occupied the property for at least seven continuous years.
If the squatter meets the criteria and the property owner doesn’t take action, the squatter can legally claim the property

Arkansas abandoned vehicle law

Thankfully, Arkansas abandoned vehicle laws are more straightforward than its abandoned home laws. Here’s what you need to know.  

What qualifies as an abandoned vehicle in Arkansas? 

According to Arkansas State Law, a vehicle is considered abandoned if it remains unattended in the location it was found for 30 days with no evidence of intent to retake the vehicle from the owner.
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What happens to abandoned vehicles in Arkansas? 

Arkansas has a “finders keepers” law, meaning that if you find a vehicle that fits the description above, you can try to obtain a title for it after a few steps. 
First, you'll have to call the local police and give them the vehicle’s VIN so they can find the owner through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). The police will send notifications to the owner’s last known address and have to give the owner 45 days to reply. 
While the police wait for a reply, you must post a public announcement in the local paper that the vehicle was found. 
If 45 days have passed with no word from the previous owner, you’ll have to request a lien release from the revenue office. The revenue office will send a notice to the owner with 10 days to respond. If the owner fails once again to reply, the title will be handed over. Congratulations, you’ve just found your way to car ownership! 

Arkansas abandoned personal property law

This type of law is often relevant when a tenant moves out and leaves personal property behind. If you’re a landlord in this position, what’s the right thing to do? We’ll answer that and more as we go over abandoned personal property laws in Arkansas. 

What qualifies as abandoned personal property in Arkansas? 

In most cases, personal property is considered abandoned or unclaimed if there’s been zero account activity for three years. 
Most personal property follows this guideline, although the
Arkansas State Auditor
provides guidelines for other types of personal property with different dormancy periods before they become unclaimed or abandoned. 
If the personal property is an object and not an intangible financial account, money order, stocks, etc., the property is considered abandoned when: 
  • You reach out to the owner and don’t receive a response
  • You don’t know who the owner is, and the property has been left for a couple of days
If you’re a landlord and your tenant leaves personal property behind, you may legally take control of the personal property and use it or dispose of it as you wish. 

What should I do with abandoned personal property in Arkansas? 

It’s best practice to report all abandoned personal property to the
Arkansas State Auditor
. The Auditor’s website has many helpful resources to walk you through the reporting process. In most cases, you’ll be able to complete the process online from the comfort of your home. 
If you find abandoned property that the Auditor doesn’t deal with, do your best to publicize it and contact the owner to let them know their property has been found.
If you find an important piece of property, like someone's wallet, ID, or phone, it may be best to bring the property to the police. The police often have the resources to return these items to their owners. 

How can I find my abandoned property? 

If you’re on the hunt for your lost property, here are a few ways to find it: 
  • Go to the
    Arkansas Unclaimed Property website
    and input your information to search for unclaimed property. 
  • If you’re looking for money, try out the nationwide
    Missing Money
  • If you’ve lost an important item in a public place, go to the local police and see if anyone has returned your lost item. Lost wallets, IDs, purses, and phones are often brought to the police to be returned to their owners. 

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The Arkansas State Auditor is in charge of unclaimed or abandoned property in Arkansas. Visit the
Arkansas Unclaimed Property
website if you’re looking for lost property.
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