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Tenant protection

LITTLE ROCK (KATV)

A new study finds that the high rates of asthma, cancer, fire-related deaths and depression in Arkansas are all impacted by substandard housing.

On Wednesday we took a look at legislation aimed at improving rental housing in Arkansas.

Arkansas is the only state that doesn't have a law requiring landlords to meet minimum health and safety standards.

House Bill 2135 seeks to establish such protections.

Another bill offers less.

The health of a medically discharged veteran, his pregnant wife and their two year-old son suffered for a year because of mold in their North Little Rock rent house.

The landlord refused to fix a leaking roof...and there is no state law to force her hand.

"In terms of our health statistics we know that we do not rank high on good health," says Dr. Alesia Ferguson with UAMS’ Institute on Public Health.

A new study on housing and health in Arkansas was released on Wednesday.

About 40 percent of Arkansans live in rental properties but very little state law exists to protect those tenants from do-little landlords.

"Every home transitions,” says Dr. Ferguson. “Meaning today it could be a healthy home. A hazard could present itself and the next day it is not a healthy home. A home, an apartment, a building is sort of something you have to stay on top of. You have to keep trying to make it healthy. You have to keep maintaining it."

House Bill 1166 is, in the opinion of the coalition, a bare-minimum bill sponsored by a realtor.

"All that House Bill 1166 does is require a functioning roof and building envelope, heat and air functioning IF it was working at the time the tenant moved in,” says Amy Pritchard with the UALR Bowen School of Law. “And electrical, sewage and plumbing be in compliance with code at the time it was built."

Those behind this health and housing study say House Bill 2135 will do much more to protect the health of renters in Arkansas.

Another landlord-tenant bill, Senate Bill 600, seeks to streamline and simplify the civil eviction process.

Air date: March 8th, 2017

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