What can I do if my tenant breaches the lease?

By far, the majority of landlords are business people who want their tenants to be satisfied, and understand that it is in their best interest to provide safe, comfortable, habitable places to live and work. Their frustration is justified when tenants don’t pay their rent in a timely manner, or at all.

Criminal vs. Civil Eviction

Arkansas is the only state in the union with a criminal eviction statute, but some counties refuse to enforce the criminal statute. In Pulaski, for example, the sheriff and prosecuting attorney’s offices will not enforce the criminal eviction statute, so landlords must use the civil option—unlawful detainer.

Before you get into the rental business, you should consider and budget the cost of eviction.
The unlawful detainer process is cumbersome, and a little confusing. It’s also very expensive. Your out-of-pocket costs alone will be over $400-$500, and that’s if you don’t use a lawyer and handle the process yourself.

How quickly can I evict a tenant?

The law says that a writ of possession (enforceable by a sheriff) can be issued five days after service of the Notice. That’s five business days, so really a week. Realistically, with the coordinating and different filing deadlines, it takes about two or three weeks to get someone evicted.

The process is the same for both residential and commercial evictions.

Self-Help Tactics

No, you can’t change the locks. Using self-help tactics, like changing the locks, opens you to liability from a tenant for violating the law and converting (stealing) their personal possessions. If you handle evictions yourself, it is important to understand and follow the legal process.

Tenant Trashed My Property

You discover damage after the tenant is evicted, maybe because they didn’t take care of the place, or maybe because they intentionally destroyed your space out of anger. If you filed correctly, then you can continue on with the case to get a judgment for damages against the past tenant. Such a judgement will follow them around for years. It reports on their credit and background checks, and will prevent them from renting other places, even if you are not able to collect money they owe. The judgement also accrues interest.

Property The Tenant Left Behind

If, after eviction, the tenant abandons their property, what are your rights and obligations?

You will have to keep the property safe during a waiting period, after which it is considered abandoned, and you may dispose of it or sell it in a commercially reasonable manner. Any proceeds you realize from the sale are applied to the past due rents/damages.

I Would Rather Use A Lawyer

At Lion Legal, we are experienced in evictions of tenants for nonpayment of rent or other breaches of the lease contract.

We can offer full-service eviction, or limit our role to consulting with you. We will provide forms and explain the process so you, as landlord, can handle it yourself.

Remember before you lease to thoroughly investigate your tenants so you can prevent an eviction situation in the first place.

We Can Help

Our attorneys are experts, and are here for you with straight talk, predictable cost, and superior services. We promise to tell you what the most likely outcome is up front, and to be open and transparent in our communications with you until your case is resolved.
Our approach to practicing law is revolutionizing the way law firms deliver legal services. Case evaluations are completely free. Call Lion Legal today at (501) 227-7627 or Email Us to set up a free consultation.