Arkansas is one of the worst places to be a renter in America. It is the only state in the US where tenants are treated as criminals for paying rent late and landlords are not required by law to maintain their properties. Its failure-to-vacate law lets landlords give tenants a 10-day eviction notice if they are even one day overdue. Tenants who can’t or won’t leave within that span face fines for every day they remain on the property and up to 90 days in jail. This makes things difficult for the third of Arkansas’s residents who are renters and have legitimate concerns about the properties they are occupying.
The combination of failure-to-vacate and the lack of warranty of habitability make it almost impossible for tenants to challenge their landlords for legitimate reasons. It’s estimated that criminal evictions occur everyday in Arkansas, resulting in over 2000 failure-to-vacate cases being filed each year.
VICE News visited Arkansas to learn more about its draconian eviction laws. From the courthouses to the porches of some of the state’s poorest residents, we documented first-hand accounts from one of the country’s most underreported stories.