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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Housing advocates gather at statehouse to push for tenant protections

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By BENJAMIN THORP

Housing advocates
Advocates and tenants gathered Monday to speak on how a lack of protections for renters has impacted the state (WBAA/WFYI News/Ben Thorp)

Housing advocates gathered Monday to rally behind legislation to protect renters against negligent landlords.

Only one bill on the issue is likely to get a hearing during this year’s legislative session

Senator Andrea Hunley (D-Indianapolis) said under current Indiana law, health code violations against a housing unit for poor conditions go away once a renter vacates that space. Her bill would change that.

“Property cannot be re-rented, new tenants cannot move in,” she said. “It cannot be reoccupied until that code violation has been fixed.”

Hunley’s bill would only apply to Marion County.

Some advocates have raised concerns that the bill doesn’t include adequate enforcement mechanisms.

Andrew Bradley is the policy director at Prosperity Indiana.

“There’s not an enforcement to say that you cannot re-rent that apartment after it fails inspection. We think SB243 needs those kind of teeth,” he said. “We also think this is a statewide problem and needs a statewide solution.”

The event featured a number of tenant speakers who described how a lack of tenant protections has impacted their lives.

Tenant Ashley Nora came to speak at the housing advocacy event. She talked about her experience continuing to pay rent on an apartment that is unlivable due to a bad case of black mold.

“At the end of the day we have nothing, I have no rights,” she said.

Nora said she has continued to pay rent at the apartment to keep from getting an eviction on her record while staying at a hotel.

“I have to hold up my part which says I will pay my rent each month,” she said. “But they do not hold up the part of the contract that says you will give me a habitable home.”

The bill is expected to receive a hearing this week.

Contact WBAA/WFYI reporter Benjamin Thorp at bthorp@wfyi.org.

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