Depending on where in the state you live, Arkansas law provides for up to three types of eviction processes. Here we will address the most common and, in our view, the most effective process.
Arkansas Unlawful Detainer
What is Unlawful Detainer?
Unlawful Detainer is a civil process used by an Arkansas landlord when the landlord feels the tenant has violated the terms of the lease. One of the most common violations is failure to pay rent.
How much notice is required to evict a tenant?
In an Unlawful Detainer action three days’ notice to vacate must be given to the tenant.
How does a landlord give a tenant notice of eviction?
A landlord may properly give notice of eviction in four different ways. (1) The landlord may hand it to the tenant or have another person hand it to the tenant. (2) The landlord may send a copy of the eviction notice by registered or certified mail to the address of the property. (3) The landlord may leave a copy of the eviction notice with someone old enough to accept service at the property and then mail a copy of the notice to the property address. (4) Or the landlord may post a copy of the eviction notice on the front door of the property if no one is home.
What happens if the tenant does not leave after the notice?
In those three days the tenant must either vacate the property or they will likely find themselves in front of a circuit court judge trying to explain why they did not comply with the terms of the lease agreement. If after the three-day notice, the tenant does not vacate the property, the land lord then has the option to file a lawsuit against the tenant to get a writ of possession (otherwise known as an eviction order).
How long does a tenant have to respond to the lawsuit?
The tenant has only five days to respond to the complaint filed against them, and if they don’t, the Court will issue a writ of possession which directs the sheriff to go to the property and evict the tenant.
How is the five days calculated?
The five days starts the day after the tenant is served with the complaint and does not count any legal holidays or weekends.
What happens if the tenant files a response within the five days?
If a response is filed within the time allowed by Arkansas law, notice of a hearing date will be provided to the tenant.
What happens if the tenant does not file a response within the time allowed?
If the tenant does not respond timely to the complaint against them, the landlord will prevail, and the court will issue the eviction order.
What happens at a hearing for Unlawful Detainer?
At a hearing, the landlord will admit the lease into evidence and provide specific proof to the Court that the tenant has violated the lease agreement. The tenant will then have an opportunity to put on any proof they have showing they did not violate the lease agreement.
What about the money the tenant owes the landlord?
The judge can award the landlord a judgment against the tenant for any money the landlord can prove the tenant has not paid.
Can a landlord get attorney’s fees for an eviction?
Yes, if the landlord is successful in getting the judge to grant an eviction order, the judge may award the landlord attorney’s fees.
What happens once the landlord gets an eviction order from the judge?
Once the judge signs the writ of possession, the county sheriff will take care of the process of actually removing the tenant from the property.
Can a landlord keep the security deposit to cover unpaid rent?
The landlord may keep the security deposit under certain conditions. Within sixty days of the termination of the lease, all money must be returned to the tenant. However, the security deposit may be applied toward the unpaid rent or any damages suffered by a landlord which were caused by the tenant. The landlord must provide notice of intent to keep some or all of the security deposit, this notice must be mailed to the tenant by first class mail to the tenant’s last known address. Any damages claimed by the landlord must be itemized in written form and delivered to the tenant along with any remaining portion of the security deposit within the sixty-day window.
What if the landlord can’t locate the tenant to return the security deposit?
If the landlord can not find the tenant within 180 days after sending the required documents by mail, the landlord is then entitled to keep the security deposit.
What happens to the personal property left behind by a tenant?
Upon the termination of the lease, any and all property that was left in the rental is now abandoned and the landlord may dispose of it as they wish.
How do I start the eviction process?
If you are a landlord in need of help evicting a tenant who is violating the terms of their lease, you need to know your rights. The process is pretty cut and dry, but you have to make sure you exactly comply with the various statutory requirements, or a judge is unlikely to give you the relief you need fast.
Let us help you get your property back quickly. Give us a call today and we can help you assess the situation and provide you with advice to most effectively meet your goals.