And it’s nothing to brag about.
Indianapolis is second only to New York City in the number of tenant evictions. That’s not the rate of evictions–that’s the actual number. We’re ahead of Houston and Philadelphia, among others.
I have long been aware of Indiana’s deficiencies in landlord-tenant law. Among the many, many failures of the World’s Worst Legislature has been the years-long refusal of the General Assembly to pass any laws that might upset landlords by offering even the slightest protection to renters.
The legislature’s obeisance to property owners and utter disregard of renters has always been egregious, but the recent surge of purchases in “emerging” neighborhoods by out-of-state companies has made the situation much worse. Corporate and investor purchases of homes increased by 145 percent between 2019 and 2021–and these purchases are driving down homeownership and driving up evictions.
State Senator Fady Qaddoura is one of the (distressingly few) shining lights in Indiana’s General Assembly. (Full disclosure: Fady was a student of mine and I can attest to his intellect, his integrity and his values.) Last session, he authored SB230, which would have given tenants in Indiana the right to withhold rent if their landlord failed to make necessary housing repairs; the bill would also have given tenants the right to make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the next rental payment if the landlord failed or refused to do so.
Indiana is one of only five states without these habitability enforcement rights.
Of course, the bill didn’t pass; it is currently in study committee (where good ideas go to die–I served on the gerrymandering study committee and watched as members ignored evidence and made certain that redistricting reform went exactly nowhere.)
SAVI recently reported on SB230.
Speaking with The Polis Center’s analysts, Senator Qaddoura highlighted the necessity for providing recourse for tenants when landlords fail to repair critical systems, such as heat, water, gas, or electricity. Qaddoura emphasized that most landlords in Indiana take care of their tenants and comply with providing necessary repairs. However, he stressed the increase in out-of-state, corporate landlords that have allowed properties to deteriorate. Negligent corporate landlords such as those responsible for the Lakeside Pointe at Nora complex failed to provide heat, which led to the use of space heaters and resulted in at least seven fires in 2021 alone. Situations like Lakeside Pointe at Nora are further complicated when landlord corporations operate as non-profits entities, which makes enforcing legal penalties and oversight more difficult.
Senator Qaddoura also shared the frustrating reality of tenants attempting to communicate with landlords who are out of state and unresponsive. Unlike with local landlords, tenants have little recourse for tracking down owners or property managers when multiple LLCs are created to purchase investment properties. As essential services such as water, electricity, plumbing, etc. become unusable or unavailable, tenants are required to contact the landlord or property owner and wait for them to remedy the situation. However, in multiple cases, these repair requests remain unaddressed, and tenants are not allowed to make the repairs themselves.
According to Senator Qaddoura, families with language barriers are often prime targets for such abuses.
The small-claims courts overseeing petitions for eviction are inundated, and far too often mechanically approve a dozen or more eviction cases in a morning, without allowing the tenants to complain or explain. (In all fairness, given the lack of laws protecting those tenants or giving them grounds for those complaints, it’s hard to criticize those judges.)
That said, The Greater Indianapolis Multi-Faith Alliance (GIMA) has made the eviction crisis a focus of its efforts.The Alliance is starting an Evictions Court Watch–an effort to get more people into the courtrooms to keep judges accountable. (As one advocate noted, “there’s nothing scarier than little old church ladies with clipboards!”)
I certainly applaud GIMA’s announcement, but their efforts would be better directed at those making the rules, rather than the Judges who lack the authority to enforce rules that don’t exist. Perhaps substantial attendance at meetings of the SB230 Study Committee, coupled with other advocacy efforts, would have an effect.
But don’t hold your breath.
After all, hundreds of people from all over Indiana showed up at meetings of the redistricting study committee, armed with data showing that large majorities of Hoosier wanted reform, but continued gerrymandering easily won the day.
And that brings me back to my recurring observation about the “quality” of Indiana’s legislature.We need lots more lawmakers like Senator Qaddoura and his co-sponsors– Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, and Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington.
Of course, gerrymandering makes that legislative improvement unlikely.
17 thoughts on “We’re Number Two!”
I’m not surprised that these legislators won’t do their jobs to help fellow citizens unless there is a kickback to them in the form of donations to their campaign. Citizens need to have all this money out of politics so they finally get something for their tax payments.
I rented a house in northern Indiana in the early oo’s and we had an ice storm one morning in late January. I had my car parked near a tree that started to crumble under the weight of the ice and pulled the car away just as a 20 foot tree limb fell right where my car had been parked. I saw it happen! I cleaned up the limbs so I could get to work and another limb went through the roof of the living room after I had left for work. My landlord got the ceiling and roof fixed that day but left the tree debris for another month. I called her several times in February to clear the driveway and she ignored me. I sent her a note with my March rent and said she wasn’t getting another penny from me until the tree debris was moved. What do you know! Someone showed up that week to clear the mess and I gave my notice not long after that. Owners know their rights but renters do not.
I’m grateful that your students became stewards for Hoosiers!
Having been a teacher, I spent about three years as a paralegal for a legal aid organization in Pennsylvania, prior to attending law school. I had the privilege of working with the legal aid team that won the warranty of habitability protection for PA residents, Pugh v. Holmes. This was in the late 70s. It amazes me that in 2022, over 40 years later, that this tennent protection is still unavailable to Indiana renters. It’s another example of how far behind Indiana is.
Kudos to Fady for his relentless pursuit of laws and bills for “we the people.”
Unfortunately, the landlords have the money, which greases the pigs in our legislature. Much of the far-right Tea Party crowd, which rolled in under the Trump MAGA machine, are landlords. They are also behind the gerrymandering – win at any cost attitude. No morality at all.
One point of interest, the Federal Reserve quietly bought $4.2 trillion of mortgage-backed securities over the past two years from their member banks. I wonder how many of them are LLCs?
The Fed is supposed to liquidate these mortgages in “Fed tightening.”
Since it has never been done before, analysts aren’t sure what it will do to the housing bubble created by purchasing them.
However, since these were bought at low rates and we are in a higher rate environment, most of your readers should be able to predict the outcome when it happens. 😉
The irony is right now, “we the people” are landlords and tenants to some of those properties. As for the judges in Indiana, they stink as bad as the landlords.
A very necessary essay. Thanks.
Interesting timing. I just read this article on conservative (true, not MAGA) website The Bulwark about evictions in long-term care facilities. Given Indiana’s #1 position as state most friendly to LTC facility operators, I wonder what the elderly eviction rate is here? We’ve gotta be top 3.
Patrick, I tried to read the article you posted about but couldn’t stomach it. The state our society is in reminds me of what a neighbor recently side to me. “We are witnessing late-stage capitalism”.
And where are the churches and religious people? I’ll be able to find them on Sunday.
Are the rentals in predominantly black or Latino communities? If they are perhaps federal court and civil rights are a better bet for renters.
Keep an eye on the Enterprise Zones set up around the state, giving the rich a place to hide their capital gains and defer taxation via more LLCs.
I found out the largest operator of nursing homes cashed out of his company in Bloomington and was behind a development here in Muncie. IU Health was a player in the game.
Before I die, I’m going to write a book…
501(c)s, Enterprise Zones, shell corporations and other such fronts in jurisdictions with weak landlord-tenant and other such laws that invite investment from hedge and equity funds are in need of legislative oversight, but such oversight is missing in this land of the Republican supermajority whose palms are greased with “campaign contributions” from those who should be the targets of such oversight – and to make things worse, the ill-begotten income of such funds are defined as “carried interest” and taxed as capital gains when such income is clearly ordinary income – and to make things even yet worse and from the standpoint of such greedhogs, why should these terminal capitalists pay for roofers and plumbers for such ill-represented tenants when that would decrease their, uh, capital gain takes? Just evict them!
Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes would be appalled. I am appalled, and long for the day when the complicit supermajority becomes a permanent minority. GRRRR!
Todd, I believe the largest operator is a non-profit subsidiary owned by the Boone County Hospital and he’s paid a salary of $8m/yr. .
It’s interesting there are several apartment complexes in Indianapolis that have been accepting rent monies from their tenants,but those complexes have not been paying water and gas bills. Those bills are into the millions and the utilities are threatening to cut off services.
We have reached a point where companies can do whatever they want regardless of the consequences. These issues go beyond party politics. We can say unequivocally that both political parties created the milieu for such to happen.
I knew it!
Indiana is NUMBER 1!
It is first in finding a way to travel in time…backwards!
Wow. first in abortion horrors and second in evictions in this grand USA…..proud of IN
She’ll companies hiding behind nonprofits running real estate deals and then walking away. Smells like organized crime and money laundering.
Theresa you are correct in your observation about “witnessing late-stage capitalism”….Naomi Klein described the evildoers in her book the Shock Doctrine on the “disaster capitalism” we experienced during the Bush/ Cheney regime. Unfortunately what we are witnessing is the beginning of the end of the US version of “democracy” and we’re now heading towards complete economic and ecological collapse within the next 10 years. Cutting taxes for the rich and corporations while creating TRILLION$$$ in debt (basically the Repigs printed money to give to the rich to hoard in offshore accounts while screwing the rest of us!) has created a recipe for economic disaster which will greatly eclipse both The Great Recession of 2008-2009 and the Great Pandemic of 2020-2021. And the last chance we had to do anything to slow or reverse climate change was in 2000 when Bush & Cheney stole THAT election…Al Gore was certainly not an environmental “messiah” but he knew we needed to do SOMETHING very soon to mitigate the damage we already created. I’m afraid the coming collapse will be very painful to experience for all but the extremely wealthy, and the millions of MAGAts who worship Trump and his right wing Republicon fascists are going to be really pissed off when they realize they’ve been lied to for many years…and those poorly educated deplorables have LOTS of guns & ammo so it might be wise to make some exit plans, my wife and I just bought a small but lovely little casita in the mountains of Costa Rica and plan to be living there full time before the fascists steal the 2024 election…anyway that’s a little off topic but it’s all related, we are truly screwed now and it didn’t have to be this way…greed and ignorance are a deadly combination *rant over*
Comments are closed.