Arkansas entered this legislative session with the worst landlord-tenant laws in the country and the outlook isn’t good for improvement.
Here’s a rundown on the situation from an advocate for fairer law.
Act 159, formerly SB25: failure to vacate, rolled back to pre-2001 version. [It’s still a criminal matter to fail to pay rent in Arkansas (though some progressive landlords find a civil eviction procedure more comprehensive and reliable.)]
SB600: a streamlined simplified pro se civil eviction procedure.
HB1166: an “implied quality standards” bill that imposes only three duties on landlords and gives tenants only one remedy if landlords breach: they can move out. And oh yes, the bill gives tenants permission to show the lease to a lawyer before they sign it. How kind.
HB 2135: the same implied warranty of habitability introduced in 2015 and then, backed by the Arkansas Landlords Association. Sponsors are Leding and Sabin.
So there’s the clear choice between the light and the darkness.
SB600 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB2135 has not been assigned yet to a committee.
HB1166, Laurie Rushing’s bill, will run in the House Insurance and Commerce Committee on Wednesday morning.
Community activists note that the Leding-Sabin bill had input from many people, including many landlords.
Wednesday, a meeting is scheduled to hear about research that shows the benefits for the public of more habitable (healthier) housing.
The Arkansas Health Impact of Housing Project will present the findings of a Health Impact Assessment of HB1166 and the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act on Wednesday, March 8 at 8:00 am at the Arkansas Education Association building at 1500 W. 4th Street in Little Rock across from the State Capitol.
The Arkansas Community Institute and the Central Arkansas Re-Entry Coalition have built a coalition of renters, landlords, health researchers and non-profit legal services organizations to conduct a Health Impact Assessment of proposed Warranty of Habitability legislation and other housing policies in Arkansas.