I’m again indebted to Lynn Foster of Arkansans for Stronger Communities, a long-time worker for better landlord-tenant law in Arkansas, for her November report on evictions in Arkansas.

Her introductory summary:

Advertisement

For the third straight month, evictions are at their 2019 levels, which means that, because of the CDC moratorium, when the moratorium and all forms of rent assistance go away in January, unless something changes we will see a spike in evictions.

The CDC moratorium is definitely helping tenants and is holding up well in court, for those tenants who deliver the declaration to their landlords at the beginning of the eviction process or before. Unfortunately not all landlords accept the declaration, and not all accept rent assistance from tenants either, and try to proceed with evictions.

“Highlights” include summaries of the desperate straits of many tenants and the coldness of some landlords. Foster notes, too, the variation in handling of cases by judges. Some have adopted policies of requiring hearings before a county clerk can issue the writ necessary for eviction. Bad news on that front: the Arkansas Supreme Court recently granted an instant writ to a Pulaski property owner who protested the practice and the need for a wait for a hearing (not easy in these pandemic times.) Other judges are more strict.
Foster writes:
In October, the Arkansas legislature approved $10 million for rent assistance. Although most people who applied are waiting for their applications to be processed, at this point it’s clear that all the money, which goes directly to landlords, will be spent by the end of this month or soon after.
Unfortunately, significant numbers of landlords are refusing to take rent assistance and are suing to evict their tenants anyway. Long term more must be done to help tenants, given the approaching end of the moratorium, sluggish job growth in November, and rising pandemic rates that won’t peak until next year.
Approximately the same number of unlawful detainers were filed in November 2020 as in November 2019, so it can now be said that for three months we’ve returned to the same rate of eviction filing as before the pandemic. But because thousands more Arkansans are in dire financial straits this year, it must be assumed that when the moratorium ends we will see many more evictions unless tenants receive more assistance, either in the form of direct or indirect rent assistance or the continuance of the moratorium.