Grassroots groups will gather at the Capitol at noon today to rally support for this year’s effort to pass a fair landlord-tenant law in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Citizens First Congress, Arkansas Renters United and Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) will hold a press conference on HB 140, which would put some protection in law for tenants. There are currently no habitability guarantees worthy of the name in Arkansas, leaving tenants wholly at the mercy of landlords. It might surprise you to know that some of them are unscrupulous. And many still use what are effectively criminal procedures to enforce their already over-privileged positions.

The Arkansas Realtors Association threw a high-dollar spread for legislators last night at the Capitol Hotel. I’m guessing the temperature of the martinis and the delectability of the snacks weren’t the only subject of discussion. Will they “work with” the backers of Gazaway’s legislation, as one of their lobbyists has said. It would be a first. Soon we shall see.

UPDATE: A local angle in a memo distributed by Little Rock City Director Ken Richardson, who’s like to see rental housing as part of the city’s legislative agenda.

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I won’t be able to attend today’s meeting due to a press conference at the State Capitol today. During Tuesday’s agenda meeting, Emily Jordan Cox’s, our Intergovernmental Relations Manager, failed to include HB 1410 in her presentation! I referenced the importance of this Landlord Tenant Bill to our City! I’m trying to get this bill in the City’s legislative packet. Why rental inspections in Little Rock are needed.

Arkansas is the only state without an implied warranty of habitability, an essential feature of modern landlord-tenant law, which specifies that landlords provide minimum livability requirements and essential services such as heat, water, and pluming.

* Housing is a key determinant of health and education.
* Enforcement of existing codes ensures habitability, safety, and better health outcomes.
* It has its most positive potential impact in poor and low-income neighborhoods in Little Rock with a disproportionate share of the city’s substandard housing.
o Fifty-three percent of Little Rock residents in the neighborhoods south of Interstate 630 are renters – higher than the city or state average – and the share of households that rent are increasing.
o Residents in these neighborhoods experience higher rates of poverty, incarceration and parole, significantly lower educational achievement, and high unemployment and deteriorating housing stock. Sorry I’m going to miss the meeting and Happy Valentines Day to All.

In Solidarity,

Director Richardson