Monday, March 20, 2017

Little help for renters in legislation approved today

Posted By on Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 8:10 PM

The House today passed HB 1166, which sponsor Rep. Laurie Rushing described as a "baby step" toward improving the state's scandalous landlord-tenant law.

The bill establishes "implied quality standards" for rental housing — such as functioning roof and utilities. If a tenant serves proper notice of a shortcoming — and if the landlord doesn't successfully dispute it — then a tenant can break a lease and get a security deposit back.

The Arkansas Citizens First Congress aid the bill "claims to protect renters but actually makes our housing laws less fair." The law makes it harder for a tenant to move out (rent can't be suspended while a complaint pends) and limits a right to use.

The bill goes to the Senate. Consumer advocates are working on a better bill, but passage of this one isn't encouraging. The legislature has already taken steps to protect a criminal eviction process that is unique to Arkansas.

Rushing quoted the governor's office as saying the bill was a good step.


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