Arkansas Eviction Laws: Process & Guide for Landlords in 2023
The eviction procedure in Arkansas follows the same general guidelines as other states around the US.
- Finalize a Written Pay/Quit Notice
- Complete Eviction Forms and File
- Serve the Tenant
Each eviction procedure is unique and is determined by the terms of the lease or rental agreement that were agreed upon by the landlord and the tenant. To avoid errors that the renter could exploit, it's always essential to keep precise records.
When evicting a tenant, landlords should refer to this page for a summary. Validate protocols with your local court to ensure that the whole process runs properly.
General Timeline in Arkansas
On average, evicting a renter/tenant in Arkansas is about a six to eight-week process. There are several factors that may increase/decrease the time it takes for you to reclaim possession of your property. Read on for more specific information regarding timelines in each step of the process.
Reasons for Eviction
There are several reasons why landlords may need to invoke their right to remove a tenant from their property. Below are several of the most common grounds for eviction in Arkansas
- Failure to Pay Rent: Arkansas landlords have two options when evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent. The landlord can begin either unlawful detainer action or a criminal eviction (called "failure to vacate"). These two different methods require different types of notice.
- Unlawful Detainer Method (civil eviction): When an Arkansas tenant fails to pay rent on the due date, the landlord must wait five days. If the rent isn't paid within five days of the due date, the landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant an unconditional notice to quit (move out). (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-901 (2021).)
- With an unconditional notice to quit, the tenant doesn't have a second chance to pay the rent—the only option is to move out or face eviction. The unconditional notice to quit must give the tenant three days to leave. If the tenant doesn't go after the three days have passed, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer suit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304(3) (2021).) Civil evictions are used far more often than the criminal eviction method discussed below.
- Failure to Vacate Method (criminal eviction): If the tenant fails to pay rent on the due date, the landlord can pursue criminal charges against the tenant. The landlord must give the tenant a ten days notice in writing to leave the rental. If the tenant doesn't leave during this time, the tenant is guilty of a misdemeanor. If the tenant is convicted, the court can fine the tenant no more than $25 for each day the tenant remains in the rental after the notice has expired. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-16-101 (2021).)
- Violation of the Lease or Rental Agreement: When an Arkansas tenant violates a term of the lease—such as having a pet in violation of a no-pets policy—the landlord must give the tenant a 14-day notice to cure (fix the problem) or quit (move out). If the tenant does not fix the problem or move out within those 14 days, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-701(a) (2021).)
- Failure to maintain a safe, healthy, or habitable rental: If a tenant causes a rental to become unsafe or uninhabitable—for example, by removing the hot water heater or allowing trash to accumulate in the unit—and the condition can be fixed, the landlord must give the tenant 14 days written notice to remedy the situation. If the tenant doesn't fix it, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer suit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-17-702 (2021).) If the situation is one that can't be repaired, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer suit immediately. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304(4) (2021).)
- Criminal Actions: The landlord can also evict the tenant for committing certain criminal acts at the rental unit. These acts include illegal gambling, prostitution, and the illegal sale of alcohol. In this situation, the landlord can immediately file an unlawful detainer lawsuit. (Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-304(5) (2021).)
Download Official Eviction Notices/Samples Documentation
You must provide the renter a notice to comply before pursuing an eviction with the court. You can either use the free PDF or Word template to create your Arkansas eviction notice, or you can leverage a form builder(eForms) to create a customized document.
Although services like eForms are not free – it's a small price to pay for legal compliance and protection. The process can be delayed significantly in that the notice was incorrect.
File the Complaint
How to File
Following the delivery of the formal complaint to your tenant, you can proceed with the eviction process.
If the tenant does not respond or comply with the demands, you are in the clear to continue with your eviction proceedings.
This is the eviction procedure in Arkansas:
- Go to the judicial court where the rental property is located.
- Make a complaint or ask for an eviction order.
- Make the required payments.
- Filing costs in Arkansas are approx. ~$65 across the state.
Depending on the basis for eviction and the lease agreement, it might take anywhere from 3 to 30 days from when the pay/quit notice is delivered.
Serving the Complaint to the Tenant
Delivering the Summons/Complaint
Landlords are not permitted to serve their tenants; however, the sheriff's departments will take on the responsibility of delivering the formal complaint from the court.
There are a couple of delivery methods that may be used:
- Option 1: Personal Service:
- The court will hand deliver the formal eviction notice to the tenant.
- Option 2: Substituted Service
- In the case that the tenant is not home at the time of delivery, the documents may be given to someone in the residence who lives with the tenant(a spouse). They must be over the age of 18.
If the personal or substituted service fails to reach the tenant, the court will mail the summons or hire a 3rd party delivery service.
If the tenant does not reply within 20 days(mail), the landlords must leverage a different method to ensure the documents get delivered. In Arkansas, a tenant's response is required before a court date may be set. There is no set period for scheduling the court hearing after receiving the tenant's response.
Answer is Filed
If tenants in Arkansas desire to fight the eviction, they must submit a response to the court.
If tenants object to being evicted, they must file a written response with the court, or the judicial officer will automatically rule in favor of the landlord without holding an eviction hearing.
Tenants will have ten days after receiving the notice/order to evacuate to submit a response in criminal nonpayment of rent eviction proceedings.
Tenants will have five days after receiving the summons and complaint to submit their answer to the court in all other eviction matters, including evictions for criminal behavior.
A hearing on the eviction will be arranged after the court receives the written answer.
The court clerk will set a hearing date for the eviction proceeding if the tenant files an answer within ten days of receiving the notice/order to vacate for criminal nonpayment of rent evictions or within five days of receiving the complaint about all other evictions.
Assuming all parties attend, the landlord must submit proof to back up their claims at the hearing.
Be prepared to present the following resources as evidence:
- The lease agreement and the deed of the property under management
- Rent payment receipts/tenant ledgers
- Records of communication
- Bank statements
- Photos of potential damage to the property
If the tenant fails to present for the hearing, the court will find in favor of the landlord, resulting in the tenant's eviction.
If the landlord or the tenant demands a jury trial, the procedure will take longer.
Tenants may submit an appeal, but this will not halt the eviction, and the tenant may be required to vacate the rented unit while the request is underway. The tenant must post an appeal bond in an amount specified by the court at the time of the appeal. The appeal must be submitted within five days of the notice of appeal being served.
A writ of possession will be issued if the court determines in favor of the landlord, and the eviction procedure will begin.
Asking for Possession:
File a to receive Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession.
The landlord must make a compelling case against the renter, supported by credible facts. If the tenant fails to appear at the hearing, the landlord automatically wins.
Once the tenant files their response, a hearing is arranged between a couple of days to several weeks.
After the Judgement:
Writ of Possession is Issued
A writ of possession/eviction serves as the tenant's prior notice to vacate the rental unit before the possibility of being forcefully removed by law enforcement to carry out the court's order.
Within three days of the landlord's possession judgment being filed in his favor, a writ of possession/eviction will be issued.
If the tenant stays in the rental unit after the writ is filed, the landlord will be forced to surrender ownership of the apartment.
Possession of Property is Returned
The sheriff will return and forcefully remove tenants from the rented apartment if they do not move out within 24 hours of obtaining the writ of possession.
These ranges are in nature. It’s important to note that every eviction proceeding is slightly different. This article should serve as a guideline and should not be considered as “set-in-stone”.
Tips & Tricks
- Keep a paper trail: maintain paper records of receipts, leases, etc. Should you work in an office, it is important that you keep you files organized for easy reference/access in case of a scenario like this.
- Property management software: Software like this will automatically save payment information, SMS texts, phone calls, signed lease agreements, payment information and more. Rentroom, for example, will keep all of this information store under a tenant’s profile in a CRM-like interface.
- Cloud file storage: There are a number of services like Dropbox or Google Drive that will be a good place to store files in the cloud. These files will be accessible from anywhere. An added benefit is that you can share files directly with other stakeholders across your team or with legal council, for example
- File organization: Regardless of how you choose to stay organized, the quick access is key to maintaining a quick eviction timeline. Use folders or the file systems that allow you to organize files by the house or by the tenant.
- Lease agreement: Come prepared to discuss the terms set forth in the lease agreement that you and you tenant signed at the beginning of your relationship.
- Bank statements, payment receipts (or lack thereof): Keep records and show the judge the past payment history of the tenant.
- ACH Returns for NSF: When an ACH transfer or check bounces due to non-sufficient funds, this is good evidence to show to the judge - especially in a charge-back scenario.
- SMS & Email Communication: You should keep copies of all communication with the tenant. Many landlords send email or text messages for payment reminders or late-rent notifications.
Sometimes visual evidence is very powerful when you are presenting your case. If the tenant is being evicted due to lease breaches such as noise complaints, illegal pets, or property damage, showing photos, videos, etc. can be a compelling method to show proof.
Disclosure: Rentroom has prepared the document on this webpage for your informal review solely, using publicly available sources. We have not independently confirmed the quality or trustworthiness of the material on this webpage, and we make no representation or warranty that it is reliable, accurate, comprehensive, or up-to-date. The information is supplied "as is," with no warranties expressed or implied. Rentroom disclaims all responsibility and liability for any loss or damage resulting from the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information on this page.
My name is Nick Caucci and I help run the Rentroom blog. Over the years, I have seen and helped many different property managers and owner-operators streamline their daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly workflows.