Legal FAQs for Renters in Arkansas

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.

This page was last updated on Jan 24th, 2024. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

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Problem with your Landlord?

What if I need repairs on my rental home in Arkansas?

Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.

You should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.

Emergency repairs could be for problems with:

  • Running water or hot water

  • Heat or air conditioning

  • Stove, refrigerator, or oven

  • Electricity

  • Bathroom use

  • Missing doors, locks, or windows

  • Pests

If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).

Reach out for legal help for additional guidance.

Can I break my rental home lease in Arkansas?

You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.

You can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.

Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).

Find legal help on ending your lease.

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me from my rental home in Arkansas?

Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.

It is illegal in Arkansas for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.

Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.

Find legal help to protect your rights.

Behind on Rent?

Am I eligible for rent relief?

Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships. You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.

You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP. You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to see if you are eligible.

Does immigration status matter for rent relief?

Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.

Can a landlord apply for their renter, to get rental assistance?

Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply. Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.

The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information. Check with your local Rental Assistance program about the steps to follow to apply for rent relief.

Who can help me with rent that I owe?

If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.

Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.

Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.

Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?

My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Arkansas. What should I do?

You do not have to leave your home yet, even if you have received a "pay or quit" warning notice. Arkansas has two civil eviction processes as well as a failure to vacate or “criminal eviction” procedure. In every case, the tenant must get written notice of any eviction case filed in court and a chance to respond before they have to move.

Most evictions are “unlawful detainer” cases filed in Circuit Court. In those cases, tenants are served with a 3-day notice to vacate. This is an official notice that your landlord may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.

These are the Arkansas requirements for an eviction notice:

  1. The notice must be written down.
  2. It has to have your full name and address.
  3. It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reasons.

For a 3-day Notice to Pay or Quit,

  1. It has to have everything above and say exactly how much rent you owe.
  2. It must include a statement informing you that failure to pay the rent or vacate will result in an eviction lawsuit in civil court.

In some cases, landlords will file eviction cases in district court without ever giving the tenant an eviction notice beforehand. In those cases, the tenants must be served with written notice of the case and a court date where they can appear and respond. This is unusual outside of Sebastian, Crawford, Craighead, Jefferson, and Pope counties.

Please note that in Arkansas, you can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor if you do not move within 10 days of getting a 10-day notice to vacate for nonpayment of rent. Find local legal help in Arkansas here.

My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in Arkansas. What if I can't afford to pay it?

You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, to help you fix the situation. Arkansas law does not give tenants an “opportunity to cure” nonpayment of rent (or, to catch up on rent to avoid eviction) while an eviction case is pending. However, most landlords will agree to stop an eviction if tenants can just pay what they owe.

Be sure to let any local rent assistance group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan. Find local financial help in Arkansas here.

How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction?

In Arkansas, you have a minimum of 3 days between your landlord giving you a notice to vacate and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you. The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 3, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal. It is best to try and work something out with your landlord before the notice to vacate expires. However, you can reach a settlement with your landlord to stop the eviction at any point before a Judge actually orders you to leave.

Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment. Find local legal help in Arkansas here.

What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Arkansas?

A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.

Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself. Find local legal help in Arkansas here.

Do I have to leave my home by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date in Arkansas?

No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice. You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.

After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself. Find local legal help in Arkansas here.

Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?

My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in Arkansas. What should I do?

You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. Service is complicated. If you do not believe you were served property, you should speak to your local legal aid program for further assistance.

Arkansas has multiple eviction methods with different rules about service. Most cases are “unlawful detainer” cases filed in circuit court. In those cases, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:

  1. Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Complaint. The landlord can not give you these papers - it has to be a person not involved in the case. This can be the sheriff, deputy, a process server, or any person over 18.
  2. These people can deliver the papers in a few different ways. They can attempt to deliver the notice to you in person or leave it with someone in your household that is 14 or older.
  3. They can also first mail you a copy.
  4. If they can not reach you, they can try another reasonable method, if approved by a judge.

In rare cases, a sheriff’s deputy may serve a tenant with an eviction lawsuit by taping court paperwork to the tenant’s door. This only applies to evictions in district court, not circuit court. Although Arkansas has a law that allows this, it may violate other federal laws. You may need an attorney if you were served this way.

You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against eviction. Find local legal help in Arkansas here.

Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Arkansas?

You can come to an agreement with your landlord, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed. You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home. Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.

Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.

You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed. Find local legal help in Arkansas here.

Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction. The process is different if the eviction is in Circuit Court versus District Court. Check which court you are in, and then follow the right process.

For Circuit Court Evictions: In most cases (called “unlawful detainer” cases filed in Circuit Court), you have to file an Objection within 5 days (excluding Sundays and holidays) and pay whatever amount of rent the landlord alleges to be due into a court registry.

If you do not do this by the 5th day, you may lose your case and the court may give your landlord permission to remove you from your home after 24 hours without you ever going to court. However, most courts do not enforce the requirement to pay rent into the registry at that stage of the case. You can use this form with detailed instructions to write the Objection you must file with the court.

District Court Evictions: In some eviction cases filed in district court, the court sets the case for a hearing within 10 days. You should know if you have that kind of case because you will already have a court date in district court. Tenants do not have to file anything with the court in those cases.

However, the Judge will probably order them to move within 24 hours if they do not come to court. These cases are rare outside of Sebastian, Crawford, Craighead, Jefferson, and Pope counties.

Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit. Find local legal help in Arkansas here.

Emergency Protections during COVID

Do I still have to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency?

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

  • Apply for Rental Assistance as soon as possible: If you need financial assistance for housing costs like for rent or utility bills, you may be able to get help. Get financial and legal help.
  • 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.
  • 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.(

Find more help for renters in Arkansas here.

Can my utilities be shut off during the COVID-19 emergency?

During the emergency, Arkansas renters had some protections from utility shutoffs if they could not pay their utility bills. Those protections have expired.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission had 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.

What do the protections mean for Arkansas renters?

Since emergency protections have expired, for renters in Arkansas:

  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.
Are there any special protections for renters in Arkansas during the COVID-19 emergency?

Emergency protections have expired for Arkansas renters. Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them.

If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.

Are eviction cases still proceeding through Arkansas courts?

Yes, Arkansas courts are still hearing eviction cases, with most courts resuming hearings as of May 18, 2020.

Check with the Arkansas state courts for more information.

Can my landlord evict me during the COVID-19 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.

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

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