Nick Camper, a California native, lives in a Fayetteville apartment. Though he’s lived in Arkansas for four years, he wasn’t aware that the state doesn’t recognize tenants’ rights until recently.
“I only found that out through experiencing various videos on YouTube,” Camper said. “I came across a video, and it was fascinating. Coming from California, that’s not something that’s mentioned and talked about, and it’s not mentioned and talked about in this state, either.”
Camper learned that Arkansas’ landlords aren’t required to provide “safe and habitable housing”, a stipulation that is worked into the laws of every other state. This means there aren’t minimum standards a property owner must meet to rent out a unit, and renters must hope their landlords take it upon themselves to treat their tenants ethically.
“It seems like the cards are stacked against us, and I feel a little pressured by that,” Camper said.
Bills sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly failed, and Sen. Greg Leding said meaningful legislation has been thwarted by the Arkansas Realtors Association working outside of committee.
“To my knowledge, no member of the Arkansas Realtors Association has actually testified against the legislation in committee,” Leding said. “They really work through their lobbyists.”
Kendra Butterfield is the president of the Northwest Arkansas Apartment Association. She’s also the director of operations for Elevation Real Estate, and she said her company follows ethics guidelines laid out by the National Apartment Association to protect renters rights.
“[The guidelines give] you an opportunity to create that lease for your company that keeps you within those standards of how, on a national scale, those standards are across the country,” Butterfield said.
The next legislative session is in 2021, so no legal remedies can be enacted until that time. Leding said to call representatives and senators to encourage them to take action and build a coalition to work for change.