Commission Recommendations

We support passage of legislation that will effect the recommendations set forth in the report of the Non-Legislative Commission for the Study of Landlord-Tenant Laws. Those recommendations include the following:

• Amendment of Arkansas’s “unlawful detainer” statute to make the civil eviction process more streamlined for landlords who wish to file eviction cases in district court and represent themselves. The amended statute will provide for statutory forms for both landlords and tenants. Full implementation of these provisions will require action on the part of the Arkansas Supreme Court with regard to expansion of district court jurisdiction.

• Repeal of the civil eviction statutes found in Ark. Code Ann. §§ 18-17-701 through -707 and -709, which has fatal flaws that make it unusable.

• Repeal of Arkansas’s criminal eviction statute following implementation of the amended unlawful detainer procedure.

• Enactment of a statute clarifying that self-help action by landlords in evicting clients is illegal. Such a statute would codify existing case law found in Gorman v. Ratliff.

• Enactment of a statute prohibiting retaliatory eviction by landlords.

• Enactment of a statute creating an implied warranty of habitability, which will impose a duty on landlords to make and keep the rental property safe, structurally sound, and habitable. All plumbing, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances must be maintained in good and safe working order, and landlords will be required to comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety.

• Enactment of a statute prohibiting enforcement of unconscionable leases and lease provisions.

• Enactment of a statute prohibiting certain provisions in leases that would unfairly limit tenants’ legal rights.

• Amendment of statutes dealing with landlord access to rental property to conform to corresponding provisions of the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. These amendments would allow landlord entry in case of emergency, limit unreasonable access by landlords, and provide tenants with a remedy for a landlord’s abuse of access.

• Enactment of a statute allowing a tenant to either terminate a lease or demand performance when a landlord fails to deliver possession of leased premises to a tenant.

• Amendment of Arkansas’s protection-for-victims-of-domestic-abuse statute to allow a victim to terminate a lease early without penalties when certain conditions are met, including entry of an order of protection against the aggressor.

• Amendment of Arkansas’s fair housing statute to add sexual orientation as a category protected from discrimination.