The House Insurance and Commerce Committee is hearing testimony this morning on HB 1486 by Rep. Greg Leding to put minimum habitability standards in Arkansas law for rental property.
The realtors association opposes the bill, a product of years of work including assent by a landlords association. So, too, did at least two Republican committee members, Reps. Joe Farrer and Robin Lundstrom, who said they were landlords, maintained good properties and said they believed the market would produce good conditions. Leding said if that were true the bill wouldn't be needed. Tim Grooms, a lawyer for realtors, said the bill could lead to an increase in rent rates and suppress housing development.
Democratic Rep. Fred Love said he was aghast to learn the bill had lower standards than federal standards for subsidized housing, which were themselves not high.
The writing is on the wall on this one. I don't think I can bear to watch more.
Typical of the tone: "I'm offended by this bill," said Lundstrom.
I'm offended that we have the worst landlord-tenant law in the United States. And that minimum standards — aimed particularly at the low end of the market — meets such resistance.
I'm not surprised. The state Insurance Commissioner, Allen Kerr, testified against the bill. Insurance agents don't like it. Few people in state government speak for renters.
A supporter of the bill photoshopped a little editorial commentary:
UPDATE: Ledding said he'd appreciate but didn't expect a good vote after a brief close that said the third of Arkansas people who rent deserve to expect a habitable dwelling.
His bill was overwhelmingly trounced on a voice vote.