HB 1313 – Restriction on Local Governance and Fees on Landlord/Tenant Relations

Reps. Speedy, Turner, and Austin have introduced HB 1313 which would restrict the ability of local government to adopt ordinances that regulate landlord/tenant relations. In particular in forbids adoption of ordinances that requires landlords to take a class or be licensed as a landlord in some way. It also forbids local government from imposing a fee on the landlord as part of an inspection or registration requirement.

I’m a little hazy on the details here in West Lafayette, but I think they have an ordinance that regulates the number of occupants you can have in a rental. (A perennial concern in a college town). And, as part of this, I believe you have to register and/or be part of an inspection. I don’t know that there is a fee involved, but I would not be at all surprised if there is. This would prohibit such a fee which, doubtless, would make such ordinances more difficult to enforce.

I guess I don’t have strong feelings on the policy, but I’m no fan of the constant erosion of local control. If (for example) slumlords are a problem in a locality, they should probably have the flexibility to address the problem at the local level.

Comments

  1. knowledge is power says

    local ordinances fill-in the blanks for vague or non-existent state laws.

    What is baffling to me is why some in the legislature think that they have a green light to attempt to exempt Indiana from federal laws/
    mandates (ie., guns at schools) but the legislature does not want to share decision-making on other issues with cities, towns and counties?

  2. Soapbox0916 says

    In Evansville, we have a voluntary rental registry through our Building Commission that was actually proposed and supported by our local landlords. Our City Council was really impressed that the local landlords were in support and had been involved in developing the ordinance. By being voluntary, it allows the landlords that want to be seen as good landlords a chance to positively screen themselves into the rental registry. We also provide wavier of fees, free mediation, tenant education, and other positives to landlords that voluntary register their units. I personally strongly believe that voluntary is the best way.

    We also folded our landlord inventory that was established when we had stimulus funds for housing the homeless into the voluntary rental registry. Our housing broker had been working with nearly 200 landlords helping those that were homeless/near homeless find rental housing and also working with the landlords at the system level. Now we are working with several hundred landlords in positive voluntary relationships.

    Then enters the local police department wanting to do their very own rental registry aka crime-free registry and mandate that landlords be required to take a crime-free class in order to lease units. Now many of the local landlords are upset. I don’t know what is exactly going on in other cities, but since this bill mentions preventing the requirement of classes, I think it is similar. Also since the bill still allows fees for building permits and code violation fees, I think it is more along the lines that the mandated crime-free training requirement/landlord classes that is mostly what has upset landlords across Indiana. Well the classes and the idea of a mandated fee just to simply lease a unit too.

    In Evansville, we have about 35,000 rental units. Keeping track of rental units is really very expensive for local government and so I think the thinking is that there needs to be a way to pay for it, and no it cannot simply be ignored. I personally think having landlords volunteer to register works out way better in terms of compliance anyway, but mandating would be seen as more secure funding for the budget.

    The average citizen does not realize how overwhelmingly we have out-of-town owners, abandoned property, owners that have walked away, foreclosures, non-local bank owned, multiple tiers of ownership, etc. The address for paying taxes for rental units is very often not who manages the property, and we still are struggling to obtain local emergency contacts for a lot of our rental units. The local governments are left with this expensive burden. Times have really changed.

    I have had discussion with other Indiana cities about having a voluntary rental registry, but at the same time ironically have been struggling to convince some other local departments that we need to keep voluntary.

    So I have mixed feelings about this bill too. This bill would personally help me keep the rental registry voluntary and also therefore help me to continue to build on the positive good will that I think we have with hundreds of local landlords, but I hate to “win” by the state banning local governments from doing something. Plus, I think the argument that voluntary is best is slowly winning without the need for legislation, just by working it out among ourselves locally.

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