Tardy on Rent in Arkansas? You Could Go to Jail

Jack Bedrosian

Under something called the "failure-to-vacate" law, more than 1,200 Arkansas tenants were taken to court last year simply for failing to pay their rent on time. According to a report published last week by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and reported by Salon's Natasha Lennard, Arkansas is the only state in the U.S. that can require a tenant to vacate if they are late to pay rent by just one day. Once they are told to move out, the tenants have 10 days to do so, or face criminal charges.Subsequently, the report says, tenants taken to court are all but forced to plead guilty, as those who choose to fight the charges risk up to 90 days in jail.HRW reports that the law has opened the door to baseless claims from landlords. One woman told the group she received an arrest warrant from her landlord just three days after she was ordered to move out. Another woman says she was repeatedly charged with late rent payments by a man from whom she had purchased her home—and paid it off in full.HRW and others have called for the law to be repealed. 

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