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Copyright (c) 1998 Arkansas Law Review and Bar Association Journal, Inc.
Arkansas Law Review

CASE NOTE: Propst v. McNeill: Arkansas Landlord-Tenant Law, A Time for Change

1998

51 Ark. L. Rev. 575

Author

Stephen J. Maddex
 

Excerpt




 
It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past.

Oliver Wendell Holmes 1
 


I.
 
INTRODUCTION
 
In November of 1996, the Arkansas Supreme Court refused to impose tort liability on a landlord for damage to a tenant's property located on the leased premises. 2 The court indicated that it has no intention of budging from the rule in Arkansas that "unless a landlord agrees with his tenant to repair leased premises, he cannot, in the absence of statute, be compelled to do so or be held liable for repairs." 3 A landlord in Arkansas, then, has no duty to keep the leased premises in good repair, and, as a result, the landlord cannot be held liable in tort for damages if the tenant, or his property, were injured due to the landlord's failure to repair a defect.

This rule is based upon the common law doctrine of caveat lessee, meaning "lessee beware." 4 The doctrine stands for the proposition that the lessee, rather than the landlord, bears the duty to inspect the premises fully before entering into the lease agreement, and therefore is charged with having knowledge of the conditions of the property at the time of the ...
 
 
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