The Indiana State Senate voted Monday to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of a bill that would prohibit cities from enforcing anti-retaliatory regulations against a tenant from a property manager, unless the complaint was a concern about living conditions.
If a majority of the House votes to override the veto, the bill would override a 2020 Indianapolis anti-retaliatory initiative that aimed to protect tenants who asked an attorney or health inspector for help when the conditions at a property are unlivable.
This legislation would strip the ability for Indiana cities to regulate or force the disclosure of any screening processes for tenants, according to the WTHR.
Indianapolis’s mayor and city council expanded rights for tenants in 2020 after reports of poor living standards at many rental properties in the city. Indiana is a landlord-friendly state, according to an IU study from May 2019.
“Indiana has several state laws and local ordinances governing evictions and landlord-tenant relationships,” according to the report. “However, Indiana remains one of eight states that does not protect tenants against landlord retaliation.”
This is the first time either chamber of the Indiana State Legislature has successfully overridden a veto from Holcomb. Both chambers of the legislature and the governorship are controlled by a Republican supermajority, meaning if the full GOP was to vote together it could override any veto from the governor’s office.
Holcomb remains confident in his veto, he said in a statement Monday, according to Fox59.
An IndyStar investigation from February 2020 found four Republicans in the Statehouse attempting to advance the pro-landlord legislation have close ties to real estate, which means the legislation could financially benefit them.
The Indiana Apartment Association, a group representing property owners, lobbied against passing the pro-tenant legislation. The IAA’s political action committee donated almost $1 million to GOP members of the Indiana State Legislature to lobby in favor of landlord-friendly legislation, according to the IndyStar investigation.
Indianapolis established a hotline to provide legal assistance to tenants. Tenants could report any retaliation from property managers, and the city could enforce fines on the property managers.
Almost 1,000 calls were made to the hotline since its creation in early 2020, according to the IndyStar.
The City of Bloomington allows tenants to file complaints with the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department, though there is no dedicated hotline for tenant rights questions, such as when it is OK to terminate a lease.
Those with questions about landlord or tenant rights in Bloomington should consult the terms of their lease or consult an attorney, according to the City of Bloomington’s website.
State Sen. Shelli Yoder, a Democrat who represents Bloomington, released a statement after the override vote.
“Hoosiers who rent deserve safe living conditions protected at every level of government,” she said in a release. “Today’s effort to override the governor’s veto is another example of state government overreach negatively impacting those most vulnerable.”