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Lugar Tower residents sue housing agency over poor living conditions

Richard G. Lugar Tower apartment complex on Fort Wayne Avenue in Indianapolis. (Provided Photo/Google Street View)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Residents of Lugar Tower, an apartment complex near downtown Indianapolis, sued the Indianapolis Housing Agency, or IHA, the owner of the property, over poor living conditions.

Additionally, the IHA and Bradley Company, the property management company that contracts the IHA to own Lugar Tower, are being sued for violating lease agreements with tenants and breaching residents’ right to quiet enjoyment of the property.

The suit, filed in Marion Superior Court 11 on April 26, comes after months of residents reporting to the IHA and Bradley Company several issues within the complex from the months of December to April.

According to court documents, residents reported in December that the front door had been taken off track, which allowed anyone to enter the building, including non-residents. After reporting the broken door, IHA or Bradley failed to fix the door, and it continued to break over the course of six months.

As non-residents continued to gain access to the building, court papers say residents reported several break-ins and burglaries at their apartments, all of which were believed to be from non-residents.

A resident had also reported a “non-resident repeatedly stabbed a resident” outside their apartment, leaving a “substantial amount of blood on the floor and walls.”

Eventually, the IHA and Bradley Company “hired security that requires visitors to sign in before entering Lugar Tower during daytime hours.” Court documents say non-residents still found ways into the building, either by going through side doors or coming in when security wasn’t present.

Non-residents would also leave behind “feces and urine in stairwells and hallways,” which court papers say had not been cleaned from the stairwell as of the date of the filing.

Residents also reported to IHA and Bradley Company that the elevators were nonoperational for long periods of time, “leaving residents with disabilities trapped on the upper floors.”

Court documents say that it was also reported that trash would pile up and not be taken away, and residents would also go without hot or cold water and heat or air conditioning for periods of time.

An apartment rented by one of the residents involved in the suit was examined by Environmental Health Specialists with the Marion County Health Department in January, February, and early April.

The apartment failed inspection each time, due to cracks and holes in the walls, a broken light, and a roach infestation.

According to the lawsuit, public health records show that since January, residents have reported broken elevators, non-residents breaking in and sleeping, defecating, urinating in hallways and stairwells, doors not locking, mold, roach, and bed bug infestations, lack of hot or cold water and heat or air conditioning, and piled up trash.

Court documents say these conditions were still present at Lugar Tower at the time the lawsuit was filed.

For this, the suit says IHA and Bradley Company have violated Indiana Landlord-Tenants Relations Statute, which requires landlords to provide safe and habitable conditions for their residents.

The suit says this violates the agreements of the tenants’ lease by not remedying the conditions of the apartment in a reasonable time after notice and disrupting the ability to enjoy living on the property.

Students with the Indiana University McKinney’s Health and Human Rights Clinic and Fran Quigley, director and professor at the clinic, are representing the residents of Lugar Towers in the suit.

Lawyers of the residents asked a judge on April 26 to issue an order “to immediately remedy the safety and habitability issues at Lugar Tower,” court documents say. The suit also asks a judge to award residents damages for the breach of lease.