Al Jazeera A
merica has an excellent piece on the plight of tenants at the Alexander Apartments
on Colonel Glenn Road in Southwest Little Rock, where destitute residents are facing eviction due to the dismal condition of the property. The property owner, Jason Bolden
, has failed to keep the apartments up to a minimum standard of habitability, according to the city.
, we reported that the city condemned the apartment complex and gave tenants one week to vacate their homes after a fire department and code enforcement inspection found "hazards in this apartment complex [that] represent an immediate threat to the occupants." The tenants, and the landlord, took the city to court, and a judge granted a temporary restraining order
, saying that the sudden closure would cause irreparable harm to tenants.
The tenants were placed in the unfortunate position of siding with Bolden to avoid eviction — even though Bolden's negligence in keeping up the property is what led to the condemnation in the first place.
That's in part because Arkansas renters have no recourse when their landlord doesn't maintain the property, as Al Jazeera explains. Unlike most states, Arkansas doesn't require a minimum standard of habitability with which to hold landlords accountable. So, if a rental unit is condemned because it's unsafe? Tough luck for the renter.
The news station speaks to UALR law professor Lynne Foster
, whose struggle to improve the state's rental laws we've profiled before.
"It's like if you go to the store and buy some food, you buy it under the assumption that this is going to be edible food. We're the only state that doesn't have anything like that. ... If the landlord doesn't make the promise in the lease, the landlord has no duty whatsoever to keep the premises in good repair," Foster told Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera also interviews Neil Sealy, an organizer with Arkansas Community Organizations, which has been working with the residents at the Alexander Apartments. "I think if renters had the right to withhold their rent if repairs aren't made, to terminate a lease, or to take a landlord to court, it'd be so much easier for the city here to maintain property and keep it up to standard," he tells the reporter Christof Putzel.
Putzel then tries to talk to Jason Bolden. The landlord walks away from the camera and refuses to comment.