Arkansas legislature focusing on renters’ rights bill

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – There are now two bills making their way through the legislature that deal with landlord-tenant laws in Arkansas.

Both are similar but some say that HB1563 favors tenants more and HB1769 favors landlords more. 

Lynn Foster with Arkansans for Stronger Communities believes everyone is doing their best to get something done this Session.

“I think that everybody is dealing in good faith and everybody would like to see something get passed,” Foster said.

Arkansas is the only state in the US without any habitability warranties.  Foster believes many legislators understand the need for them now.

“They support an implied warranty of habitability and they realize that it’s time to do something about it and so we are very hopeful that we can perhaps find some compromise between these two bills,” Foster said.

The eviction process has been a sticking point in the argument in past legislative sessions.  Foster says both sides need certain protections in those proceedings to make it a better and fair process,

“For the last 10 years, landlords have been telling us that they would like a better eviction procedure and there are also some problems with addiction as far as tenants are concerned,” Foster said.

Foster says this cannot be a law that is thrown together but must have some teeth in it for renters of Arkansas.

“It’s something that will be a meaningful improvement for tenants to bring us more into line with every other state in the United States,” Foster said.

Landlords in previous years have argued that these provisions will cause rent rates to increase because of the increased cost of doing business.  State Representative Gazaway and others have said that residential landlords in other states have made profits despite those habitability warranties being in place. 

Foster says the lower the income status the more likely you are to see problems.  But landlords still make profits due to things like lower property taxes and lower mortgages that help alleviate costs. 

Foster has reached out to the sponsors of both bills in an effort to find a compromise and to put the best aspects of both bills into law so that Arkansas will finally have something on the books, “Really, really, really hopeful and optimistic that we can reach a compromise that will bring Arkansas more into line with other states.”

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