Eviction Moratorium May Help Some, But AR Remains Worst in Nation for Renters

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a nationwide moratorium on evictions from now until the end of the year, but renters aren't automatically protected.

    The CDC's effort to clamp down on homelessness during the pandemic and into the flu-season months will help some renters, but experts say Arkansas has a dismal record when it comes to renter's rights and rental assistance.

    Lynn Foster, emeritus professor of law for the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, said renters have fewer rights in Arkansas than in any other state.

    She said the most commonly used eviction procedure for nonpayment of rent is called an unlawful detainer. Under the provision, a tenant has five days to respond to the court order and must pay the owed rent amount in full.

    "And in order to have a hearing before the court, they have to find the money that they couldn't pay in the first place and file it with the court," Foster explained. "To my knowledge, we're the only state that has a law like that, and it's clearly designed just to push tenants out as quickly and easily as possible for the landlord."

    Foster said the CDC moratorium only applies to tenants who have signed the agency's declaration form and delivered it to their landlord.

    Residents can find a copy of the form on the Arkansas Legal Services website.

    For assistance, call 501-376-3423 if you live in central, southern and western Arkansas, or 1-800-952-9243 if you live in northwest or north central Arkansas.

    Neil Sealy, executive director for Arkansas Renters United and Arkansas Community Organizations, said he worries about so-called "self-help" evictions occurring across the state, despite the CDC moratorium.

    He said they often go unreported.

    "But it's illegal, and that's when the landlord could cut off utilities and change the locks and force a tenant out, without going through the eviction process," Sealy said.

    Foster said the CDC order does not relieve tenants of the obligation to pay rent owed or any late fees or other penalties.
    When the moratorium expires on Dec. 31, she fears thousands of renters will ring in the new year owing large sums of money they don't have, with little help available.

    "Our rent-assistance program leaves much to be desired," Foster said. "I have looked and looked for some kind of a mass list where a tenant could go to see where they can even apply for rent assistance. I don't think there is one. I haven't found one."

    At least 36 states have established a statewide emergency fund to assist renters. According to Census survey data, around 27% of Arkansas renters who live in households with children said they have no or little confidence they can pay next month's rent.

    More from News

    • Tiny House Raffle today to benefit CASA

      The Texarkana Children's Advocacy Center and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Texarkana College have teamed up to raffle a tiny house and there's only a few hours left today to get tickets.

    • Reminder: Waiver Still in Effect for CDLs

      The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding the public that the State of Disaster Declaration in response to COVID-19 remains in effect, and includes the waiver of expiration dates for commercial driver licenses (CDL).

    • AG Paxton Sues Precious Metals IRA and Bullion Coin Scheme that Defrauded Senior Investors of Over $185 Million

       Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Texas State Securities Board joined the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and 29 other states to prevent Metals.com, Chase Metal, Barrick Capital, and others from continuing to defraud elderly people across the United States by convincing them to convert their retirement savings into precious metals.

    • Redwater ISD Receives 2020 National Blue Ribbon Honors

      All campuses nominated by TEA in February were awarded this prestigious designation

    • Harvesting Hope, One Food Box at a Time

      Food Bank to Host Fourth Drive-Thru Mobile Pantry Event

    • University of Arkansas lifts testing requirements for 2021

      (AP) — The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville has decided to change some testing requirements to give prospective freshman more options for enrollment next year.

    • Republicans sue Texas governor over expanded early voting

      Gov. Greg Abbott, who has refused calls to expand mail-in voting in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic, was sued Wednesday by prominent members of his own party who now want to halt the biggest change he instead ordered for November’s election — extending early voting by a week.

    • Lawsuit filed over Arkansas absentee ballot rejections

      A lawsuit filed Tuesday asks a federal judge to require Arkansas election officials to give absentee voters a chance to correct their ballots before they’re rejected due to signature issues.

    • Texas Voters Need to Register by Oct. 5 for November Election

      It typically takes less than five minutes to register to vote, but the pandemic has made it harder to reach first-time voters. That's why MOVE Texas plans to call 100,000 unregistered voters as part of Tuesday's National Voter Registration Day.

    • Two men arrested on drug charges in Hope

      Officers with Arkansas Community Corrections, Agents of the 8 North Task Force and deputies of the HCSO arrested 53-year-old Robert Gulliams and 58-year-old Bobby Cobb after conducting an investigation into narcotic activity at 1705 Wilson Street, in Hope, AR.

    • Mass flu clinic this week

      Health experts are urging everyone to get their flu shot as soon as possible with Arkansas holding flu vaccination clinics across the state this week.

    • October Drug Take Back Day

      On Saturday, October 24th, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department, Miller County Sheriffs Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Miller County Prosecutor’s Office will give the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for the October Drug Take Back Day.

    Today's Weather

    • Texarkana, TX

      Sunny

      High: 72°F | Low: 50°F

    Events