What You Need To Know About Eviction in Arkansas

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Evictions in Arkansas get categorized as either civil or criminal, and each has different rules. Landlords can not evict tenants themselves—only a law enforcement officer and force tenants out of the property.
Arkansas is known as The Natural State, and the name is fitting. It has beautiful mountains, forests, and lakes and is one of America's most affordable places to live. Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many renters lost jobs and, with it, the ability to pay their rent. 
While non-payment isn't the only reason for eviction, no one wants to feel that they are about to lose their home. 
Jerry, the super app designed to save you money on car and renters insurance, is here to help provide a guide for all you know about evictions in Arkansas. Continue reading to learn how long evictions take, what to expect, and what actions you can take to remain in your home.  
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Arkansas eviction 101: the three ways you can be evicted

In Arkansas, a landlord can only evict a tenant during the term of their rental agreement if they have a legal cause. The reason must fall into one of the following categories:
  • Failure to pay rent
  • Failure to maintain a habitable rental: Making the rental unsafe by causing damage, attracting vermin, or disrupting utilities
  • Violation of the rental agreement: Breaking rules stated in the lease, such as having animals
  • Criminal actions: Illegal activity such as gambling or prostitution
When a tenant doesn't pay rent, the landlord has two options if they want to file for an eviction:
  • Civil Eviction (Unlawful Detainer): This is the most common method used by landlords. If the tenant has not paid the rent within five days past the due date, the landlord can issue a Notice to Quit. The notice is unconditional and the tenant must leave within three days or else face eviction—there are no second chances to pay the rent. After three days, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer suit if the tenant is still there. If the notice is conditional, the tenant has the option to make the payment or leave
  • Criminal Eviction (Failure to Vacate): For a criminal eviction, the landlord must give the tenant a written 10-day notice advising them to leave—failing to leave within 10 is a misdemeanor and the courts can fine tenants up to $25 per day for staying.
If the tenants live in a federally funded property, they are given a 30-day notice to vacate. 
The evictions for lease violation and failure to maintain a habitable rental have similar rules. In these situations, the landlord will issue the tenant a Notice to Cure. This gives the tenant 14 days to fix the violation or move. If this problem isn't remedied in time, an unlawful detainer suit is the next step.
For criminal actions, the landlord does not have to wait at all. They can file for an unlawful detainer suit immediately
You may have noticed that all roads seem to lead to an unlawful detainer if the tenant doesn't move. Once tenants receive an unlawful detainer notice, they have five days to object in writing. If tenants don't file an objection, the sheriff will remove them from the premises. If an objection is filed, there will be a hearing.
Key Takeaway Arkansas has conditional and unconditional evictions. A conditional eviction gives the tenant time to pay rent or fix a violation, while an unconditional eviction only allows the tenant to move. 

A timeline of eviction in Arkansas

Evictions can move fast in Arkansas, and the laws do not leave much room for tenants to be late on their payments. As a result, you may need to leave your home in a few days or in a few months.  The most important thing to remember is that you must promptly respond if you receive a notice. That is your best chance of having more time. Here is a breakdown of the eviction timeline:
StepHow long it typically takesWhat to expect
Written notice from landlord5-30 days depending on the noticeThis notice will explain the reason for the eviction if it is conditional or unconditional, and what you can do (if anything) to remain in the home.
Summons and ComplaintNo legal time line-a few days to a few weeksIf the landlord sent the notice in the mail and no reply is received in 20 days, they must have them served again.
Tenant response5-10 days depending on the noticeTenants have 10 days to respond in writing if being evicted for criminal non-payment. All other evictions have five days to respond.
HearingNo legal time line-a few days to a few weeksThe judge will hear the case; this is where tenants can present any defense they have.
Eviction3 daysIf the judge has sided with the landlord, a Writ of Possession is issued and delivered to the tenant within three days.
Return of Rental Property24 hoursAn officer of the court posts the Writ of Possession the tenant has 24 hours to leave. After that, any belongings left behind become the property of the landlord.
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Evictions can be scary and overwhelming, and in Arkansas, they are generally fast-moving. That’s why familiarizing yourself with the process might help save you some stress in the long run.

How to resist eviction in Arkansas

The tenant laws in Arkansas are more in the landlord's favor than in other states, and they have much less to lose by pushing through an eviction. Here are some tips that hopefully help if you are in this situation: 
  • Address the cause of the eviction: If the eviction is conditional, act fast and fix what is needed. If you are behind on rent, talk to the landlord to see if they will work out a payment agreement.
  • Point out a procedural mistake: Did you receive all the notices you were supposed to? Where were they delivered the right way? Did the landlord follow the time frame they set in your lease agreement? Even one error can make a big difference if you bring it up in court. 
  • Call out discrimination: While talking about discrimination is uncomfortable, its important to speak up if you feel that is why you are being evicted. Discrimination in the housing market is illegal in Arkansas, and if you bring this up in court, you might be able to turn the tables and suit them for damages.
If any of these above options apply to you, use them!  If you feel that you will not be able to say in your home, it is in your best interest to pack up and find another place to live right away. Landlords can keep your personal belongings if they are left behind. 

How to save money on Arkansas car and renters insurance

With a rough economy and shaky job market, it is getting harder and harder to find ways to save money to get ahead. Rent, food, utilities, the list of things we need to pay for each month could go on and on—if you have a car, car insurance is one of them.
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