New bill proposed to help reform renters rights in Arkansas

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new bill has been proposed to Arkansas lawmakers that would focus on renters rights reform.

State Representative Jimmy Gazaway is making another run at passing meaningful renters’ rights in Arkansas. 

He said the state is long overdue for a ‘do pass’ on this legislation, “Every other state in the country has some form of an implied warranty of habitability and landlords are still operating and doing well in those states.”

Gazaway’s bill, HB1563, would establish a basic warranty of habitability landlords would have to provide. 

These include: running water, hot and cold water, safe wiring of the unit, smoke alarms, weather protection and waterproofing of roofs and walls, left in a condition to not grow mold, and have reasonable measures in place to control an infestation of pests or rodents. 

Landlords who testified today said that will increase the cost of doing business and passed down to tenants. 

One man said, “I don’t have a property one that I’d be ashamed for any of y’all to see but I notified my tenants if this passes their rent is going up $75-$100 per month. “

Gazaway says he has heard from landlords who claim this but says basic essentials of a home is not asking too much, “We’re not asking for gold plated fixtures we’re not asking for a Jacuzzi tub and every rental unit we’re at simply asking for the very basic minimum step affect health and safety.”

HB1563 also lays the framework for eviction proceedings and has protections for both landlords and tenants.  He says he consulted with several landlord groups and in short, “They want a quick easy and cheap way to pursue evictions.”

State Representative Richard McGrew says he has rental property and testified today against the bill.  He had issues with how the eviction process would play out, “Does increase the cost it also refers to it as the District Court which is not available at this time.”

Other opponents interpreted the eviction process as more costly to landlords because much of the process would require an attorney despite the proceedings being moved to District Court where that isn’t necessary.  One man said, “You’re voting on a bill that requires an attorney to do an eviction.”

Landlords that testified on Wednesday also said the notification process is cumbersome and could potentially leave tenants in units for months before an eviction hearing. 

But proponents says they hope this bill will finally enhance the quality of life for renters in Arkansas, “Don’t think there’s a lot of disagreement about the need to move forward with the habitability at issues at this bill I just want to stress the urgency of trying to accomplish that during the session with him behind for too long.”

The committee ran out of time while discussing HB1563 but will resume discussion about it on Monday.

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