Advocates for improvement to landlord-tenant law in Arkansas, the worst in the country, note that they are working to prevent hurryup action in the Senate Judiciary Committe Wednesday on SB 25 by Sen. Blake Johnson to change the criminal eviction law as little as possible but preserve the ability of use of the justice system to get speedy eviction of tenants.
A string of court decisions at the lower court level have said the current criminal eviction statute is unconstitutional. Rather than fix it with a proper civil procedure as used in other states — and also provide some habitability protection for tenants who sometimes don’t pay rent because of abysmal upkeep — the dark forces would prefer to keep a speedy criminal eviction process in place.
Johnson has courts in his area that have found the existing law unconstitutional. This is his fix:
A court of competent jurisdiction may, upon conviction of a tenant for refusal to vacate upon notice, issue a:
Writ of possession for the county sheriff to evict the tenant from the leased premises; or Court order to evict the tenant from the leased premises.
Johnson had claimed at one point that this might just be a starting point. He said other ideas would be considered. We’ll get an idea of whether that’s true tomorrow. As I indicated, advocates of a better law hope to slow the train down.