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New laws affect commercial property owners

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Three bills with implications for owners of commercial real estate were approved by the General Assembly and have been signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

One of the bills, House Bill 1005, loosens requirements for taking advantage of the state’s industrial recovery tax credit when renovating vacant industrial buildings. Few property owners have taken advantage of the credits, which are awarded by the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

The law signed by the governor reduces the minimum age of buildings eligible for the credit, from 20 years to 15. It also opens the credit up to smaller buildings. The previous minimum size of 250,000 square feet was reduced to 50,000 square feet through the end of 2014. The minimum rises to 100,000 after that date. To be considered vacant, a property can be no more than 25 percent occupied, but now a building need only be vacant at least a year to qualify for the credit. The previous requirement was two years.

Another new law discourages municipalities from charging apartment-building owners exorbitant inspection and registration fees. Some cities had started imposing the fees as a way to recoup revenue they’ve lost because of property tax caps. The law prohibits cities and towns from funneling such fee revenue to general operating budgets.

Finally, apartment owners were successful in shepherding through changes to controversial immigration legislation. The bill passed and signed by the governor no longer requires landlords to verify the legal status of tenants. According to the bill’s original language, landlords whose tenants were found to be in the country illegally could have been charged with a misdemeanor or Class D felony. That part of the bill was removed because it ran counter to the federal Fair Housing Act.
 

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