Arkansas Eviction Process
October 8, 2023
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Eviction In Arkansas
If you own and rent properties in the state of Arkansas, you are responsible for complying with Arkansas eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Arkansas.
Eviction Process in Arkansas
- Landlord serves a zero- to 14-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a “notice of intention to issue writ of possession” and tenant files an answer.
- Tenant is served a summons to court.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets 24 hours to move out.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Arkansas, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating another lease provision that materially affects health and safety, refusing to allow the landlord access to the property, or engaging in criminal activity on the premises (ACA § 18-17-705).
It’s important to note that tenants in Arkansas are still responsible for paying rent during an eviction so long as they remain in possession of the premises. The acceptance of rent by the landlord is not a waiver of the landlord’s right to evict for a breach, nor does it serve as a renewal or extension of the tenancy (ACA § 18-17-911).
1. Landlord Serves a Zero- to 14-Day Eviction Notice
If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve an Arkansas eviction notice and state that the tenant has seven days to remedy or cure the violation. There are four possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Arkansas:
- Rent Demand Notice (Civil Evictions): 3 days to quit. In Arkansas, eviction based on nonpayment of rent can either be a civil or criminal action. For civil actions, the landlord must deliver a three-day quit notice stating the breach and that the lease will terminate in three days. The landlord is not required to give the tenant an opportunity to pay rent to stop the eviction (ACA § 18-60-304).
- Rent Demand Notice (Criminal Evictions): 10 days to quit. In Arkansas, “failure to vacate” for nonpayment cases can also be filed as a criminal action. For criminal nonpayment cases, the landlord must send the tenant a ten-day quit notice stating the breach and that the lease will terminate in ten days. If the landlord chooses to file a criminal eviction action, the tenant will also be charged with criminal misdemeanor charges (ACA § 18-16-101).
- Lease Violation Notice: 14 days to cure or quit. If a tenant violates another lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than fourteen business days after receipt of the notice) (ACA § 18-17-701(a)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: Immediate. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant does any of the following on the leased premises as per ACA § 18-16-502 and 503.
- Engages in illegal gambling
- Engages in illegal prostitution
- Unlawfully sells alcohol
- Uses or allows another person to use the property as a “common nuisance.” A common nuisance is place used to facilitate a series of three or more criminal violations or a place primarily used for the selling, storing, manufacturing, or using of illegal drugs (ACA § 5-74-109(b) and § 16-105-402)
- Other criminal activity
Unconditional notices to quit are uncurable breaches of the rental agreement, so landlords in Arkansas can file for eviction immediately without providing a cure period. All notices must be served to the tenant personally, left with a person of age in their family at the property, or, if these methods fail, posted to the front door or “most conspicuous part of the premises” (ACA § 18-17-903; Ark. R. Civ. P. 4). They should also be mailed by certified mail with a return receipt.
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, and injunctive relief in circuit or district court (ACA § 18-17-701(c)).
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file an Complaint in Unlawful Detainer form and supporting affidavit (copies found here) with either a Arkansas Circuit Court in the county where the property is located or, if permitted by the supreme court, with an Arkansas District Court with concurrent jurisdiction (ACA § 18-60-306).
The complaint should state the grounds for the eviction, and the affidavit should be signed by a person with personal knowledge of those grounds (ACA § 18-17-902). The complaint also includes:
- The county and case number
- The landlord and tenant’s names and information
- The address of the leased property
- A verification of ownership or contract with the owner
- The type of rental agreement (oral or written), and the date is commenced
- The monthly rent rate, and the date it is due
- The date and time the landlord served the eviction notice
- The grounds for eviction (e.g., amount of rent owed, holding over, failing to maintain the premises, drug activity, etc.)
- The landlord’s signature, address, and phone number
The supporting affidavit, which verifies that the landlord is over the age of 18 and is entitled to possession of the property, must be attached to the complaint. The landlord must also attach a copy of the eviction notice and the lease if written and pay a filing fee of $65 (for civil court) or $50 (for small claims court) to file the action in district court (ACA § 16-17-705).
3. Court Serves Tenant a “Notice of Intention to Issue Writ of Possession” and Tenant Files an Answer
After the landlord files a claim, the court will issue an order requiring the tenant to either vacate the unit or file an answer (ACA § 16-17-902(b)). This order is called a Notice of Intention to Issue Writ of Possession (downloadable here), and it must be served to the tenant by the sheriff or process server with the landlord’s complaint (ACA § 18-60-307(a)).
An answer is a written objection to the complaint to show cause why the tenant should not be evicted. After receiving the Notice of Intent to Issue Writ of Possession, if the tenant does not move out or file an answer with the clerk within ten days (for criminal nonpayment actions) or five days (for all other eviction actions), excluding Sundays and legal holidays, the court will immediately issue a writ of possession in favor of the landlord by default (ACA § 18-17-904, 18-60-307(b)). The writ will be executed by the sheriff within one day of notifying the tenant (ACA § 18-60-310(c)(1)).
4. Tenant is Served a Summons to Court
If the tenant does file an answer as directed, the landlord should obtain a date for the court hearing and a summons, which notifies the tenant of the date, time, and place by certified mail (ACA § 18-60-307(c)).
The Summons form (downloadable here) will state the date of the court hearing, at least ten days after the landlord files the lawsuit, and should be served to the tenant as per the regulations specified by Ark. R. Civ. P. 4—if it cannot be delivered personally to the tenant or a family member of age at the residence, it should be posted conspicuously on the front door. To have the sheriff serve the summons, the landlord will need to pay a fee of $30 (ACA § 21-6-307(a)(1)).
If the landlord is seeking an immediate writ of possession, it is possible to expedite the eviction process by presenting a “prima facie” case (based on first impression) for their possession of the property. If the court thinks the landlord is likely to succeed at the trial, a writ of possession can be issued immediately. The hearing may also be expedited if the demand for possession is based on the tenant’s being convicted of certain criminal violations (ACA § 18-60-307(d)).
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment. If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the district court will issue a writ of possession within three days (ACA § 18-17-907). Once issued, the landlord will need to complete and file the writ, which costs $20.
If the tenant does not attend the hearing, the judge will rule in the landlord’s favor by default.
The landlord must make a separate monetary claim for rent, actual damage, and reasonable attorney’s fees (ACA § 18-17-703).
6. Tenant Gets 24 Hours to Move Out
The landlord should take the writ of possession immediately to the sheriff’s office to request service. The fee for service of a writ of execution is $100 (ACA § 21-6-307(a)(2)). Once the sheriff receives the writ, they will deliver a copy to the tenant by serving the tenant themselves or another person of age at the residence (if the sheriff cannot find anyone within eight hours, they may serve the writ by posting it conspicuously on the front door).
After the writ is posted, the tenant gets 24 hours to move out.
Under Arkansas eviction law, the tenant is allowed to appeal the judgment. Tenants may appeal to the circuit court, where a hearing will be held as soon as it is feasible. An appeal does not normally stop the eviction process. However, the tenant can delay the writ’s execution by signing an appeal bond that they will pay the landlord the amount of rent determined by the court, periodically as it becomes due. If the tenant does not make the promised payment within five days of the due date according to the bond, the clerk will still issue the writ of possession to be executed (ACA § 18-17-707; § 18-17-910).
7. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If 24-hour period expires and the tenant has not moved out, the sheriff will notify the landlord of this fact and then forcibly remove the tenant and their belongings. The sheriff has the right to forcibly remove all locks or barriers to enter the premises, as well as to physically restrain the tenant from interfering with the removal of the personal property in the unit (ACA § 18-60-310).
The tenant’s personal property, possessions, and belongings which are removed from the unit must be stored in a public warehouse or another reasonable and safe place under the landlord’s control. If the final judgment is in the landlord’s favor and it includes a monetary judgment, the landlord must sell the personal property in a “commercially reasonable manner.” The proceeds of the sale must then be applied first to the storage cost and then to the monetary judgment. Any remaining money should be remitted to the tenant (ACA § 18-60-310(c)).
Evicting a Squatter in Arkansas
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Arkansas, squatters must have lived in the property, have color of title, and pay property taxes for seven continuous years to invoke Arkansas squatters rights and claim right of possession (ACA § 18-11-106). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Arkansas to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Arkansas, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Arkansas eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Arkansas Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Arkansas, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Filing fee||Varies by county|
|Service of court summons (by sheriff)||$30|
|Issuance of writ of possession||$20|
|Service of writ of possession||$100|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Arkansas Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||0 to 14 days|
|Tenant response period||5 or 10 days|
|Issuance and service of summons to tenant||A few days|
|Eviction hearing||At least 10 days after the filing date|
|Issuance of writ of restitution||Within 3 days|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||24 hours|
- Complaint in Unlawful Detainer (with Affidavit)
- Notice of Intention to Issue Writ of Possession
- Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure – This document includes the specific rules of civil procedure and court policies in Arkansas.
- Arkansas Court Filings Fee Schedule and Filing Fee Information – These sites include information about how much it costs to file various documents with the courts in Arkansas.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Arkansas laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.