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City leaders approve proposals to protect tenants’ rights

City leaders approve proposals to protect tenants’ rights

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — City-County councilors on Monday night approved proposals to protect tenants’ rights, but lawmakers could vote to amend a bill that could void both proposals.

The State House Committee voted 8-3 to amend S.B. 340 Monday morning.

City Proposal 40 will provide $250,000 to the Office of Public Health and Safety for free legal representation for eviction cases. Proposal 41 will require landlords to provide tenants’ notice of their rights and responsibilities before signing a lease. It also entails a free hotline for renters looking for advice and will punish landlords who retaliate against renters who file a complaint. Landlords can face a minimum $2,500 fine.

The community is fighting against the amendment to Senate Bill 340 that could take those resources away.

“With the passage of 340, it will take a number of items out of the city’s toolbox when it comes to readdressing those who don’t follow basic law or who are moving forward and not providing inhabitable living conditions,” said Amy Nelson, executive director of Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.

“We have witnessed what happened with different residents dealing with landlords, dealing with property management, dealing with property owners and being wrongfully evicted,” said Derris Ross, director of nonprofit Tenants’ Rights Union.

“For an example, you’re living in an apartment complex and the landlord doesn’t fix the furnace and you’re without heat. Your lease probably says landlord is responsible for those types of items, but what happens if the landlord ignores your request and doesn’t fix your furnace in the dead of winter? What options do you have? That isn’t always spelled out in a lease agreement,” Nelson said.

City leaders and local organizations are asking the community to contact their House representative and urge a no vote on Senate Bill 340.

“It’s important that we recognize this as a statewide issue and not just a local issue,” mentioned Ross. “It’s time that we come together. It doesn’t matter if you’re a church, an organization, a business — we all need to stand against this because everyone should know about their rights.”

Click here to find your Statehouse representative and contact information.