LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas state representative has filed a bill that looks to bring basic safety standards for people who rent in Arkansas.
Arkansas is the only state that does not require landlords to maintain a safe structure for renters, leaving some people with no other choice but to live in uninhabitable conditions.
"Since Arkansas is the last of the states to not have this legislation…maybe this session the time has come,” Lynn Foster said.
Filed by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R- Paragould) House Bill 1410 aims to require minimum housing standards for tenants.
Lynn Foster, an Arkansas Bar Foundation Professor at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law, said landlords would have to comply with the health provisions of housing codes.
"If something goes wrong, the landlord has 14 days to make a repair,” she said. “If a repair is not being made, than the tenant can ask the lease to be terminated.”
It's not the first time a bill like House Bill 1410 has been filed. This is at least the fourth time a bill like it has gone through the legislative process.
“Beginning in the 1970s, bills that would impose what we call an implied warranty of habitability began to be filed in the Arkansas legislature,” she said. "Since 2013, one has been filled in every legislative session. This is now the fourth session."
Foster said if passed, landlords would be responsible for making sure things like a roof does not leak, locks on the doors work and the fire alarm works. Right now, landlords do not technically have to fix any of these issues.
"This is not legislation like the hot tub has to be kept warm. It's just the basics," Foster said.
But Foster said this bill also takes into account the difficulties that landlords face. So, if a situation is out of their control, this statue would not apply.
"So, if a tornado comes through and there's no way repairs could be made in time or if the defects are caused by the tenant,” she said.
Back in November, THV11 looked into this issue and introduced you to LaJoy Person. Person rented an apartment in Little Rock where she dealt with flooding, mold and electrical issues.
"We're just a dollar sign walking...we're not people to them. The front office they won't help you at all, they're just like deal with it,” Person said.
House Bill 1410 would protect people like LaJoy to get issues fixed. Foster said the bill also prevents retaliation against tenants, meaning a landlord can't evict or raise the rent on a tenant.