Landlord and Tenant Lawyers in Fort Smith
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Landlord and Tenant Law in Arkansas
The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Fort Smith, Arkansas can occasionally be a touchy one. Landlords and tenants are not always clear on their respective rights and obligations.
Tenants and landlords have numerous legal rights and responsibilities. In general, these rights don't conflict with one another, as long as both parties are clear about what they are, and act accordingly.
Landlord's Rights in Fort Smith, AR
Most obviously, landlords have a right to collect rent from their tenants. When a tenant agrees to pay a landlord a specific amount of money for the right to occupy the landlord's property, a contract is formed. Tenants have to hold up their end of the deal.
Moreover, landlords can bill the tenant for any damage they cause to the unit, whether it was intentional or negligent. The costs of repairs for such damage can be deducted from a tenant's security deposit, but it should be noted that tenants aren't responsible for usual wear and tear, over which they have little control.
Tenant's Rights in Fort Smith, AR
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Consequently, landlords in Fort Smith, Arkansas must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal criteria that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Tenants also have a right to ensure that the common areas of their apartment building are reasonably safe. Landlords are required to make sure that the common areas of their buildings meet Fort Smith, Arkansas's building codes, and that there are no conditions that create unnecessary safety hazards. They are obligated to make, at their own expense, the proper repairs.
In the United States, and most likely under the statutes of Arkansas, it is unlawful for renters or sellers of real estate to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, color, or religion. Doing so can subject a landlord to harsh civil penalties. Additionally, they cannot discriminate based on physical disabilities, either. Tenants with physical disabilities, who are otherwise qualified to rent an apartment (they are able to pay, have good credit, etc.) are entitled to make reasonable modifications to the apartment to make it more accessible to them, and the landlord generally can't bar a tenant from doing this, as long as the modifications are not too extensive, and are reversible. The landlord can, however, require the tenant to remove the modifications, at the tenant's expense, when they move out.
Tenants are also legally safeguarded from unfair eviction. Before a lease agreement expires, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they breach as significant term of the agreement by not paying rent, causing serious damage to the property, engaging in activities that are a nuisance to the other tenants, or engaging in illegal activity on the property, among other things.
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Can a Fort Smith, Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, chances are that you want to prevent conflict. But if you do end up in a seemingly irresolvable conflict with the other party, a Fort Smith, Arkansas attorney can help you protect your rights.