It only confirms the well-known, but a new study confirms the poor lot of residential renters in Arkansas and says it has implications for health.
The report, “Out of Balance: Arkansas Renters Share their Experiences Navigating the State’s Unique Landlord-Tenant Laws,” notes that Arkansas remains a state where renters can go to jail for failure to pay rent while landlords face little legal pressure to adequately maintain rental units.
The report is based on 1,108 surveys collected by Arkansas Community Organizations in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, DeQueen and other places. About two-thirds were done in Little Rock and North Little Rock. It was done in conjunction with the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Arkansas Community Institute
A news release summarizes key findings:
• 32 percent of renters who were surveyed reported that they had a problem with their landlord making needed repairs.
• The top three household problems were plumbing, heating or cooling, and pests or rodent control.
• The majority of respondents who reported a problem had to ask the landlord repeatedly to make repairs. More than one-third of the people with problems ended up moving.
• Landlords eventually fixed the problems for just over half of respondents.
• One-quarter of those who had a problem with their landlord experienced a health issue they attributed to problems with the property. Those health issues included increased stress, breathing problems, headaches, high blood pressure and bites or infections.
• Respondents with less than a high school education were 33% more likely to report problems with their landlord than individuals with more than a high school education.
• Hispanic respondents were 41% more likely than whites to report problems with their landlord. They also experienced verbal abuse and were threatened with eviction at significantly higher rates than non-Hispanic respondents were. Hispanic respondents also moved more frequently as a result.
Some legislators have tried repeatedly to improve landlord-tenant laws. A warrnat of habitability is one suggestion from this latest report. But the realtors lobby has always shot the effort down.