Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A delay on landlord-tenant bill, with continued Realtor opposition

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 6:42 AM


Plans for Rep. Greg Leding's landlord-tenant bill, HB 1486,to be heard in committee today have been delayed by other legislation. The plan now is for a March 18 hearing and the realtors will continue their battle to maintain the status quo — Arkansas is the worst state in the country for renters.

A landlord's group has joined in support of the bill after years of negotiation on the issue. The bill includes several features added to placate realtors. The only thing that will placate realtors apparently is continuation of a process wholly in property owners' favor — no assurance of safe premises for renters or any other protections in rental contracts.

Said Jonathan Moore, president of the Arkansas Realtors, in a recent letter to members:

This bill is an attempt to make a uniform law apply to Arkansas. Though noted as legislation promoting a "warranty of habitability,” the language requiring that all premises are "safe" places a subjective, undefined and unattainable standard on landlords. The bill attempts to preserve existing tort law standards, but creates ambiguity that could increase expenses for landlords and, in turn, increase rents for tenants.


Arkansans for Modernization of Landlord-Tenant Laws attempts to set things straight.


MYTH: This bill is an attempt to make a uniform law apply to Arkansas.

FACT: HB1486 is not based on the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, but instead was crafted by Arkansans for Arkansas. Drafters included a landlord, a tenant advocate, and experts on landlord-tenant law.

MYTH: The language requiring that all premises are "safe" places a subjective, undefined and unattainable standard on landlords.

FACT: The language of HB1486 only gives recourse to tenants when a landlord's failure to provide "safe" premises "materially affects health or safety." In other words, the problem has to pose a serious threat. This should not be an "unattainable" standard for any good landlord to meet.

MYTH: HB1486 creates ambiguity that could increase expenses for landlords and, in turn, increase rents for tenants.

FACT: Other states with implied warranties of habitability have comparable rental rates. Many states with such warranties explicitly provide for a tenant who prevails to recover attorney's fees. HB1486 does NOT provide for a tenant to sue for attorney's fees, nor does it impose any penalties. It simply allows the tenant to terminate the lease agreement or compel the landlord to uphold the terms of the rent agreement.

Please contact your legislator to help us set the record straight.

I think I know how this movie ends.

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