The House today passed HB 1166,
which sponsor Rep. Laurie Rushing
described as a "baby step" toward improving the state's scandalous landlord-tenant law.
The bill establishes "implied quality standards" for rental housing — such as functioning roof and utilities. If a tenant serves proper notice of a shortcoming — and if the landlord doesn't successfully dispute it — then a tenant can break a lease and get a security deposit back.
The Arkansas Citizens First Congress aid the bill "claims to protect renters but actually makes our housing laws less fair." The law makes it harder for a tenant to move out (rent can't be suspended while a complaint pends) and limits a right to use.
The bill goes to the Senate. Consumer advocates are working on a better bill, but passage of this one isn't encouraging. The legislature has already taken steps to protect a criminal eviction process that is unique to Arkansas.
Rushing quoted the governor's office as saying the bill was a good step.