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New Indiana law strips cities of power to regulate rental properties

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If you're one of the 2 million people in Indiana who rent their homes, you're impacted by a new law. It strips local government from having any power to regulate rental properties -- or the landlords that own them.

Now, cities are in limbo about what to do.

When this law ended up on Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb's desk last year, he vetoed it -- saying it was too broad. The Republican-dominated legislature overrode his veto yesterday, putting the law into effect.

"The impacts of this could be astronomical in a state that already has incredibly high eviction rates," said Notre Dame Law Professor Judy Fox.

The bill bans local rules on any “aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship." It also prohibits local regulations on leasing terms, fees charged by landlords or requirements that renters are made aware of their rights.

"The idea that our Indiana legislature would would forbid municipalities from informing people of what their legal rights are is incredibly offensive," said Fox.

Judy Fox is an attorney for low income renters at the Notre Dame Law Clinic. She says this law gives landlords virtually all the power.

This move was championed by the Indiana Apartment Association and some legislators that are landlords themselves. South Bend has several landlord programs including the Rental Verification Safety Program, a landlord registration and anti-discrimination ordinances, all of which are in jeopardy.

"The way that the legislature has addressed this puts us in a peculiar spot," said South Bend Mayor James Mueller.

Lawmakers are working on some amendments to the bill to remove the language about all landlord-tenant relationships. South Bend Mayor James Mueller, who is a renter himself, says he hopes that is done quickly.

As the law stands right now, landlords don't have to comply with any local regulations.

"There are a lot of good landlords, but there are also bad landlords and we need to make sure that the residents are protected and able to have safe and affordable housing," said Mueller.

The amended changes were passed by the Senate and now on the way to the House for a vote. Mayor Mueller told us if those changes don't come, the city has not ruled out taking legal action.

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We reached out to the Indiana Apartment Association for comment, but never heard back.

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