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City-County Council considers proposal to protect tenant rights to safe housing

Indianapolis leaders fight for tenant rights to safe housing

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana lawmakers on Monday voted to amend a bill that protects tenants’ rights to safe and livable housing. City-County councilors are voting on Proposal 41, which aims to protect some rights under Indiana law on Monday night.

The amendment to State Bill 340 will block the city’s plan to help tenants who are facing housing challenges. Deputy director and legal council at the office of Public Heath and Safety Matt Giffin said 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,” said Giffin.

Proposal 41 would force landlords to provide tenants a one-page notice of their rights and responsibilities prior to signing a lease. It also creates a free hotline for renters who are looking for advice, including legal representation for eviction cases.

“I think a lot of times tenants don’t know their rights and when they get a notice of eviction, a lot of times they don’t go to court because they don’t know what recourse they have and a lot of times there are evictions that can be avoided if an attorney is there,” continued Giffin.

Proposal 41 would also penalize landlords who retaliate against renters who file a complaint. Landlords can face a minimum $2,500 fine.

“That’s going to let tenants have some breathing space,” Giffin mentioned. “If you call the health department, you call the city, the tenant information hotline, you get a lawyer, you’re gonna have some protection from getting immediately evicted or having your rent increase in retaliation by a landlord.”

Click here to learn more about Proposal 41.