Tenant Law in Arkansas
The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Van Buren, Arkansas can sometimes be a touchy one. Landlords and tenants are not always clear on their respective rights and responsibilities.
Tenants and landlords have many 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 Van Buren, AR
Most obviously, landlords have a right to collect rent from their tenants. When a tenant agrees to pay a landlord a particular 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.
Additionally, 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 accountable for normal wear and tear, over which they have little control.
Tenant's Rights in Van Buren, AR
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Thus, landlords in Van Buren, 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 standards 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.).
Additionally, tenants are entitled to common areas which are reasonably safe and clean, and free of physical obstacles. Areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes must comply with the building codes of Van Buren, Arkansas. Additionally, any other unreasonable safety hazard, even if it doesn't violate a specific provision of a building code, can create liability for the landlord if it injures a tenant.
Under the laws of Arkansas, and the United States, discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, or gender is strictly prohibited. Additionally, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords must not discriminate against renters on the basis of any physical disability. They also have to authorize the renter to make reasonable modifications to their apartment, to make it more accessible. Generally, landlords are only required to allow relatively minor and reversible modifications, and tenants cannot compel them to remodel the building, for example. Also, once the tenant leaves, the landlord can bill the tenant for the costs of restoring the apartment to its original condition.
Finally, tenants in most states have a right to be free from unfair eviction. Typically, lease agreements last for a set period of time, and both parties are bound by that contract. Landlords cannot arbitrarily evict clients while the lease is still in effect.
Can a Van Buren, Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Tenants and landlords always want to avoid getting into any serious disputes - these disputes interfere with the tenant's living arrangement, and the landlord's business. In short, they help nobody. While a good Van Buren, Arkansas attorney can certainly help his or her client prevail in such a dispute, they may be more valuable for their ability to help prevent such disputes from escalating in the first place.