Increasing Homelessness Crisis in Indiana: Tenants Helplessly Face Retaliation from Landlords

Columbus, Indiana – The state of Indiana is grappling with a severe shortage of affordable housing, causing low-income families to struggle to find suitable accommodation. In Bartholomew County, in particular, the situation has become increasingly dire due to the shortage of affordable housing options and the prevalence of corporate landlords.

One of the major concerns facing tenants is the fear of retaliation by landlords. While this form of behavior should be illegal, landlords often find ways to circumvent the law in local courts. For instance, if a tenant files a maintenance request, some landlords resort to eviction instead of addressing the issue, which can leave families homeless.

According to the tenant-landlord statute, all properties should provide a safe and secure environment for families and individuals. Landlords are obliged to ensure functioning water heaters, adequate heating during winter months, and proper plumbing. However, when tenants raise concerns or complaints about these essential amenities, some landlords develop an adversarial attitude towards them, leading to evictions.

To bring attention to the housing crisis in Bartholomew County, representatives from Hoosier Action, Bartholomew County Chapter, met with state legislators, including Rep. Ryan Lauer and Sen. Greg Walker, at the Indiana Statehouse. They highlighted the urgent need for a bill that would protect tenants from retaliatory actions by landlords.

Sadly, Senate Bill 277, proposed by Bartholomew County’s own Greg Walker, failed to gain traction and ultimately died before it could be heard in the Senate. The bill aimed to create escrow accounts for tenants and landlords, allowing tenants to withhold rent and use it to force landlords to address necessary repairs. The bill would have also required out-of-state landlords to have a representative in Indiana to address issues raised by tenants.

In support of Senate Bill 277, Hoosier Action launched an online and in-person petition, garnering over 140 signatures from Hoosiers in 27 towns. However, the bill was assigned to Sen. Jim Buck’s committee, where it made no progress and ultimately met a dead end. This setback has spurred calls for change and a demand for greater representation for Indiana residents.

If residents are concerned about the housing crisis affecting their neighbors and fellow constituents, they are urged to contact their representatives and senators to voice their opinions. As voters who hold the power to influence decision-makers at the local and state levels, it is essential to take action. The fate of addressing the housing crisis in Indiana lies in the hands of its citizens.