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Gov. Holcomb vetoes bill to block Indiana cities from regulating rental properties

Gov. Holcomb vetoes landlord bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb has vetoed a measure that would have blocked Indiana cities from regulating rental properties.

Opponents to the measure argued it threatened local protections for tenants and favored landlords.

The state Senate voted 29-19 in favor of a House-Senate agreement on the bill, which the House later approved 64-32, before the legislative session adjourned March 12.

Matt Griffin, deputy director and legal council at the Indianapolis Office of Public Heath and Safety, said in February that nearly 50% of Hoosiers are renters and Indianapolis has one of the highest eviction rates in the U.S. “State law kind of stacks the deck in favor of landlords. We have some of the weakest protections for tenants anywhere in the country, including most of our neighboring states,” he said.

Senate Bill 148 was approved by the legislature, which has a supermajority of Republicans.

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Indianapolis City-County Council and Mayor Joe Hogsett in late February approved the Tenants Bill of Rights. The measure requires landlords to give tenants notice of their rights and responsibilities. The measure also calls for tenants to be connected to legal assistance where necessary to vindicate their rights and avoid eviction. Landlords are also restricted from retaliation against tenants for exercising their rights. In addition, the city law prohibits discrimination against applicants for housing based on expunged or sealed criminal convictions.

Statements

“I want to join voices from around the state in thanking Governor Eric Holcomb for his leadership in rejecting SEA 148. As we confront an unprecedented public health emergency that has cast a dark cloud of economic uncertainty over families across the state, now is not the time to uproot local protections for renters without understanding the consequences.

“It is my hope that this action will allow local leaders and the General Assembly to give this topic the attention and time that such a complex, difficult question of public policy deserves. Indianapolis stands ready and willing to participate in these discussions so that we can make the kind of meaningful progress our constituents deserve and rightly demand.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett

“We applaud Governor Holcomb for his leadership in stopping this sweeping legislation, during what became an unusually difficult season for our state. We anticipate and look forward to working with impacted parties – those in support of and opposing SEA 148 – next session. By then, we should have a better grasp on what housing stability looks like for the foreseeable future for Hoosiers in the aftermath of COVID-19. After we survive this pandemic, I think we’ll all have a greater appreciation for safe and stable housing.

“In addition to showing our appreciation to the Governor, we thank the hundreds of Prosperity Indiana members and other statewide organizations and individuals who called and wrote to voice their opposition to this legislation. While their voices were shut out of the democratic process for this bill, their advocacy and calls upon the Governor helped him grasp just how many Hoosiers were counting on his leadership on this issue at this critical moment. Prosperity Indiana and our members stand ready to assist the state in addressing the needs of the more than two million Hoosier renters, as this public health crisis continues to unfold.”

Jessica Love, executive director, Prosperity Indiana

“Thank you, @GovHolcomb for vetoing the bill that would’ve harmed so many in Indianapolis and across the state. Indy’s Tenants’ Bill of Rights will be able to go into effect!”

Ali Brown, City-County councilor, District 5

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