A Tenant’s Obligations
In 2007, Arkansas passed the Arkansas Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, which in may ways clarified and codified a lot of common law in the relationship. This was sponsored by current Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives Robbie Wills. Over the next week or so we will cover it in detail. If you simply can’t wait and want to read it in full now, it starts here, Title 18, Chapter 17.
The first sections we’ll review are 18-17-601, 602, and 603, Tenant Obligations. A tenant, independent of the lease, is required to:
1. Comply with health and safety codes;
2. Keep the property “reasonably safe and reasonably clean”, and don’t destroy the plumbing, electric, etc.;
3. Do not “destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove” any part of the premises or allow anyone to do so;
4. Conduct themselves and require their guests to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb other tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises; and
5. Not permit any illegal activities;
Pretty straightforward, basically the do right rule. But it does give those of you who operate without a written lease some statutory grounds for eviction. One suggestion – always take a picture of the premises before a new tenant moves in, then you don’t have the he said-she said evidentiary battle over how the property looked when they moved in.
The next part of that section deals with a question I get calls on regularly – what kind of access is the landlord entitled to?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t give you much clarity with respect to a specific time, just stating that a tenant shall not “unreasonably withhold consent” to a landlord to inspect the property, make repairs, investigate problems, and show the property to potential purchasers, tenants, or contractors. It also, and this is a nice clarification, prohibits a tenant from changing the locks without permission.
Usually, when I am consulted about the access question from either side, I will tell them that 24 hours is a reasonable notice period, assuming there isn’t an emergency which will damage the property, suspected (with some actual basis) illegal activities, or the following day is Christmas.