Little Rock Slumlord Highlights Tenant Abuse in Arkansas

source: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/jan/13/code-violations-follow-landlord/

Little Rock       Imran Bohra is not exactly a household name everywhere in Pulaski County, where Little Rock and North Little Rock are located, but among lower income tenants, he’s famous in the worst of ways as a notorious slumlord.  He has about 150 properties that he rents in both cities with perhaps the bulk of them in North Little Rock.  Recently, his latest company, Entropy, and his practices got some much-needed attention after he evicted and seized the possession of Theodore Thompson, a tenant who is also a member of Arkansas Community Organizations (ACO), the former Arkansas ACORN, and their tenant organizing and advocacy project.

Of course, saying he was tenant is kind of a stretch in some ways because he was never given a key to his apartment after Bohra drove him to look at the place and kept his car idling outside while Thompson checked it out.  Supposedly, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, his property manager was supposed to drop the key by.  Thompson didn’t pay rent without the key and didn’t know where he was even supposed to pay his rent.  Then Thompson found an eviction note affixed to the door and Bohra seized all his belongings in the process, which amazingly is a landlord’s right in Arkansas.

Thompson, ACO, and the rest of us might ask how any of this is possible and how can it be stopped.  As Thompson says, “It’s hard for me to understand how I’m not the first, and if he’s not stopped, I definitely won’t be the last.”

Sadly, this seems to be just business-as-usual for Bohra and from talking to Neil Sealy, head organizer of ACO, many other slumlords in central Arkansas who operate with similar impunity.  Since the beginning of 2016, the newspaper found that Bohra’s properties had been cited for code violations 170 times in Little Rock and North Little Rock.  Many of Bohra’s tenants claim they believe he has no interest in making repairs because a big part of his business model is based on collecting security deposits, first and last month rent, and pyramiding his money based on quick evictions.

All of that is helped by the fact that Arkansas has arguably the worst laws protecting tenants in the country.  Without a doubt, Arkansas is the only state that has a statute that makes eviction a criminal offense!  What that really means is that a tenant either protesting and withholding their rent to pressure a landlord to make repairs, or a tenant falling behind on their rent is seen under Arkansas law to be effectively stealing from their landlord.

A landlord can also evict a tenant with three (3) days’ notice for any reason or no reason at all and file a notice of “unlawful detainer” in civil court.  As the Attorney General’s website details that’s not a pretty process:

Unlawful detainer actions require a landlord to provide you with a three days’ written notice to vacate. If you do not leave, the landlord can sue by filing a complaint against you in court. After you receive a summons to appear in court, you have five days to object in writing to the eviction. Any objection must be filed with the clerk of the court in which the eviction action was filed, and you should send a copy of your objection to the landlord’s lawyer. If you do not file an objection, you can be removed from the dwelling by the county sheriff. If you do object, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the outcome to your case.

If that’s not bad, it can actually get worse for tenants.  As one report noted:

Tenants who plead not guilty have to pay the amount the landlord says they owe to the court before they can get a trial. In the Little Rock suburb of Jacksonville, they’re held on $250 bail.

If criminalizing non-rent payment isn’t enough to make Arkansas the most landlord friendly state in the country, the fact that there is no “warrant of habitability” guaranteeing that the tenant is living in a safe dwelling also makes Arkansas the only state without such a promise to its citizens as well.

It’s fair to say that Arkansas has the worst landlord-tenant laws in the country.  How long can this be allowed to continue?

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Please enjoy Keith Richards’ Talk is Cheap 30th Anniversary Reissue. Thanks to KABF.

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Congressman Steve King, Symbol for the Right and True Face of His Party

Congressman Steve King

Little Rock       I’m no friend of Steve King, the nine-term Republican Congressman from the 4th District of Iowa, hard in the northwestern part of that state.  Heck, I got a camera ticket on the interstate going through Sioux City some years ago and refused to pay it, largely because of King and all he represents.  During the time of troubles for ACORN in the United States, King was in the thick of it.  Watching “The Organizer,” I get to see him reprise his grandstanding, hateration regularly, as he stands before the television cameras and a bowl of acorns claiming that he keeps an acorn in his pocket to remind him of how important it is to stop the organization.

That was ten years ago.  Nothing King is doing now is any different than what he has been doing year in and year out, over and over.

He’s in the news again for standing up for white supremacy and so-called western civilization, which is actually a euphemism usually for white supremacy and rule by the rich as well.  Even though I may take his anti-ACORNisms personally, all of this is just his latest outrage.  He has been the cheerleader for neo-Nazis, immigrant bashing of the worst and most vile kind, and stone-cold racism on a regular basis.

This time California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, stripped King of his membership in three influential House committees.  Listening to the radio yesterday, one of his constituents on a call-in show in Sioux City said it hardly mattered, since King had never been able to get any legislation done or have any impact on the committees anyway.  Former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s daughter, now the lone Congressional representative from Wyoming and the deputy minority whip, made a big stink on a namby-pamby resolution that knocked white supremacy.  It passed overwhelmingly in the House with only one nay vote.  Steve King even voted for it, which should be a good barometer of how irrelevant the motion was.  Some are talking about organizing a PAC to get rid of him in 2020.  The Democrats may move to censure King since they hold the majority.  Some Republicans are suggesting that he start looking for another job.

Why all the ruckus now?  My own view is that a lot of this is a fog machine to take the attention off of Trump’s regular tweets that say almost the same thing as King’s do and a cover for the fact that the Republican Party depends on hate for their vote totals.

Furthermore, my view is let the racist scoundrel stay in the House.  He is an important symbol and spokesperson for a central support of the Republicans from the extreme right and a reminder of the base that they may not like acknowledging in public or polite company or the news media, but is critical to their politics and their strategy for hanging on to power.  Until they change their hearts and minds, let Steve King stay in office until the voters turn him out in shame and the Republicans disavow jingoism, racism, and the rest of his bile as fundamental parts of their program and appeal.

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