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Indiana Lawmakers Override Holcomb's Tenant/Landlord Veto

The Indiana House voted Wednesday to overturn a 2020 veto made by Gov. Eric Holcomb. The measure that hampers local efforts to increase tenant rights and penalize bad acting landlords now becomes law. 

Last year’s legislation came after Indianapolis passed a set of ordinances to address high eviction rates. Holcomb vetoed the measure as the pandemic hit saying the law was too broad and ill-timed.

This year lawmakers have passed accompanying bills that take out language that restricts “any” aspect of the landlord/tenant relationship.  For Rep. Michael Young (R- Indianapolis) it came down to less government.

“It is government interference with a private contract,” Young said.

The law prohibits cities from regulating relations including screening processes, leasing terms and penalties. 

Fair Housing of Central Indiana Executive Director Amy Nelson said it will stop requirements that landlords disclose tenant rights.

“What is so wrong with tenants knowing what their rights are, to be educated about the rights that they have as a renter, what is so scary about that,” Nelson asked.

Opponents said the law could have far reaching consequences on evictions. They add that despite CDC eviction restrictions, emergency evictions are still happening in Indiana.

Republicans said it was necessary to create uniformity among state and local laws.

Legislative Liaison at the Public Defenders Council Chris Bandy spoke against the moves and said cities should have capacity to help people at risk of eviction.

“Local governments know their communities best and are better suited to handle these types of relationships than the state,” Bandy said.

Indiana has some of the highest eviction rates in the country.