COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on July 3, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Arkansas Supreme Court OrderArkansas Public Service Commission order on utility shutoffsArkansas Legal Services OnlinePrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Arkansas
Are there any special protections for renters in Arkansas during the emergency? How long do they last?

There are no statewide Arkansas protections against eviction for renters during the emergency, but renters do have some additional protections in court and against utility shutoffs.

There are a few special policies that may protect renters. Landlords who want to file a new eviction case have to plead that the home in question is not covered by the CARES Act's eviction protections.

Also, the Arkansas Public Service Commission has ordered that all residents' electric, gas, and water utilities cannot be shutoff during the emergency period.

Arkansas renters may have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through July 2020. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.

Also check with your local government to see if they provide any additional local protections.

What do the protections mean for Arkansas renters?

The protections means that during Arkansas' emergency:

  1. Your landlord can still give you a notice to quit.
  2. Your landlord can still file an eviction claim in court against you, if your landlord shows that the property is not covered by the CARES Act.
  3. Hearings on eviction may still happen (depending on your local court), and the court may still hear an eviction case against you.
  4. The court may issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
  5. An existing eviction order may be enforced against you, to remove you from your home.
  6. Your utilities may not be shut off, even if you do not pay your utility bills.
Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?

Yes, Arkansas renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:

  • Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help. Get financial and legal help.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency?

Arkansas renters may be evicted from their home during the emergency.

There are no statewide protections to stop landlords from giving tenants notices to quit, filing eviction lawsuits with the court, or having the eviction orders enforced.

You may be covered by national protections, or by your local county and city. Read below to see if you are eligible for U.S. national protections.

Also check with your local government to see if they provide any additional local protections.

If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.

Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency?

During the emergency, Arkansas renters are protected from utility shutoffs if they cannot pay their utility bills.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission ordered that utility companies not disconnect any customers based on their non-payment of bills.

Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still proceeding through court?

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