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Renters rights victory

The Arkansas legislature has failed session after session to change one dubious distinction: Arkansas is the only state in the nation without a state law that requires landlords to keep their properties up to a minimum standard. (KATV Photo)

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

Supporters of renters rights are claiming a victory in Pulaski county this week.

They say it's not a statewide win but it is a start.

The Arkansas legislature has failed session after session to change one dubious distinction: Arkansas is the only state in the nation without a state law that requires landlords to keep their properties up to a minimum standard.

A group of upset tenants gave a Pulaski county judge the opportunity to change that.

But in her ruling Judge Alice Gray states that "..the court finds that it cannot imply a general warranty of habitability to all residential lease agreements."

"But what she did say is because Little Rock has city codes that require landlords in Little Rock to meet minimum standards, renters can take those standards and sue privately based on that city code,” says Dustin Duke with the Center for Arkansas Legal Services. “So in Little Rock there is now a warranty guaranteeing that landlords have to meet minimum standards when they are renting to their tenants."

Back in December of 2015 the city of Little Rock found the conditions at Alexander apartments to be so bad that moves were made to shut the complex down.

The owner...Jason Bolden...successfully blocked those efforts and has made improvements to the property since so it remains open.

If this lawsuit is successful it will put landlords on notice...except in areas where city codes do not exist.

"The rural areas,” says Duke. “There are some municipalities still that don't have city codes. Yeah...they're the ones that are losing out."

Barring any delays...a week-long trial on this lawsuit is set for the end of this year.

If you are a tenant having an issue with your landlord you can contact the Arkansas Center for Legal Services at 1-800-950-5817. Pulaski county residents can call 501-376-3423.

Air date: August 10th, 2017

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