That means the civil evictions statute has to be used in Pulaski County and there seems to be some confusion about what that means. Renters, in particular, seem confused over the bifurcated nature of a civil eviction.
When a landlord files a civil eviction, he or she is asking the court for two things – a writ of possession to deliver the dwelling to the property owner and a judgment for monetary damages. The “writ of possession” part of that process has caused all kinds of confusion for a couple of reasons – the renter must object to it and pay past due rent into the registry of the court within five days of being served with the eviction complaint.
When I say five days, that includes the day on which the complaint was served and Saturdays, but not holidays or Sundays. Let’s say, for example, that a tenant is served with the complaint on a Friday. The tenant, then, would have until the close of business on the following Wednesday to file an answer to that complaint and deposit the past due rent into the registry of the court.
If no answer is filed within five days, the landlord can get a writ of possession and take back the dwelling. Also, the landlord can probably get a writ issued if no rent is deposited into the registry of the court even if an answer has been field in time. It is important to mention these facts as a good number of tenants either think they have 30 days to file an answer or they do object to the issuance of the writ of possession within five days but they don’t realize that failure to pay back rent is typically enough to cause the court to enter the writ immediately.
Why do tenants think they have 30 days to file an answer? That is because Arkansas laws allows tenants 30 days to object to the part of the action in which the landlord asks the court to enter an order demanding the tenant to pay back rent and money to cover any damage done to the property.
The point? The elimination of the criminal eviction statute in Pulaski County and the substitution of the civil process has caused some confusion. It’s a great idea for both landlords and tenants to have an understanding of how the process works just in case they have to deal with it at some point.
This column was authored by Ethan C. Nobles and originally appeared in the Aug. 11, 2015, edition of the Daily Record in Little Rock.
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