House votes to override governor’s veto of landlord-tenant bill, allowing it to become law

The GOP-controlled Indiana House has voted to override Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of a controversial landlord-tenant bill, allowing the measure to become law.

Senate Enrolled Act 148 prevents all local governments from regulating any aspect of landlord-tenant relationships and blocks tenant protections that the city of Indianapolis had put in place last spring.

The legislation initially passed 29-19 in the Senate and 64-32 in the House in March, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state.

Holcomb vetoed it later that month, saying he thought the language was “overly broad.” It was the only bill he vetoed last year and only the second veto during his first four years in office.

“While I understand the bill was intended to create uniformity between state and local law governing the relationship between landlords and tenants, I believe this is not the right time for such language to become law,” Holcomb wrote in a letter explaining the veto.

The House voted 67-32 on Wednesday to override Holcomb’s veto, with four Republicans joining Democrats to oppose overturning it. The Indiana Senate voted 30-17 to override the veto on Feb. 8.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett issued a statement expressing disappointment in the veto override.

“During one of the most difficult times in our city’s history, local programming has allowed us to communicate with thousands of renters about their rights, help hundreds of tenants navigate the complicated legal system, and provide actionable steps for holding bad actor landlords accountable for taking retaliatory actions against some of our community’s most vulnerable residents,” the statement says. “It’s disappointing to have Governor Holcomb’s veto overridden today, but we are committed to continued conversations with members of the General Assembly and the ongoing funding of the City’s Eviction Avoidance Program and Tenant Legal Assistance Project.”

Both chambers are moving forward with bills that would eliminate the language in SEA 148 that allows it to apply to “any other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship.” The Senate version—Senate Bill 150—passed out of that chamber on Tuesday.

If either of those bills become law, then SEA 148 would prevent local governments from regulating the screening process a landlord uses; security deposits; lease applications; leasing terms and conditions; disclosures on the property, lease or rights and responsibilities of the parties; the rights of the parties to a lease; and any fees charged by the landlord.

The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition says even if the “any other aspect” language is removed from the law, it would still be overly broad.

In a statement issued after the Senate voted to override the veto, Holcomb stood by his decision.

“To be sure, we are still navigating through this once-in-a-century pandemic and therefore I still believe this is not the right time for that overly broad language to have become law,” Holcomb said in the statement. “While I obviously disagree with their decision to override my veto, I hope the General Assembly will take a careful look at how this new law will affect local residents and units of government.”

Housing advocates who opposed the bill last spring have argued that the law will negatively affect the state’s economy and overall public health. Plus, advocates say, it could create a wave of evictions during some of the coldest temperatures of the year.

“We are prepared to offer our recommendations for a more balanced law,” Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana and Housing Housing Needs Coalition member, said in a written statement. “The solutions are at the ready. Now it’s time to see leadership bring those solutions to the table.”

The Indiana Apartment Association, which opposed the Indianapolis ordinances, was the biggest supporter of the legislation, arguing that statewide regulations would provide consistency for its members.

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10 thoughts on “House votes to override governor’s veto of landlord-tenant bill, allowing it to become law

  1. In the category of “Using the most words to convolute a seemingly simple issue”, the award goes to Lindsey Erdody. Lawyers arguing with lawyers in our elected Government creates more and more of this nonsense. Just respect the free market.

  2. Do we know how many members of the Indiana Legislature own rentals and are themselves landlords? Do we know what lobbying actions were taken by the Indiana Apartment Association? As for myself and my tenants, I’ll continue to abide by Indianapolis’ Tenant’s Rights Agreements we signed last year.

  3. A lease or a contract is between two private parties, no government should be allowed to interfere or allowed to take sides on a contract between two private parties, take a look at NY or California with similar legislations and the result, housing shortages and sky rocketing rents and pause on all future development.

    1. There are housing shortages in those states because of demand for housing. There are multiple skyscrapers going up all over Los Angeles and San Diego because people want to live there. Sky rocketing rents happen because of demand. Even Downtown Indianapolis rent has skyrocketed between 2011 and today. As a landlord in Indianapolis, I’m ashamed of the State legislature once again. Indiana already has some of the loosest landlord tenant laws in the country, where tenants are abused. Thank God there’s other good landlords that actually care about people, but there’s an even greater number of slum lords in the City. I wish Indianapolis would start growing like Austin Texas so the metro area would have more Democratic power in the Statehouse.

  4. If you have to lie to make your point, you probably do not have a very good point.

    Argument: “If either of those bills become law, then SEA 148 would prevent local governments from regulating the screening process a landlord uses; security deposits; lease applications; leasing terms and conditions; disclosures on the property, lease or rights and responsibilities of the parties; the rights of the parties to a lease; and any fees charged by the landlord.”

    Response: There are already laws that apply to these issues. Simply apply those existing laws. Ergo, local governments can still regulate all of these issues. They still have local enforcement of Indiana statutes and codes.

    Argument: “Plus, advocates say, it could create a wave of evictions during some of the coldest temperatures of the year.”

    Response: There is (and has been) a national moratorium on evictions. It runs through March 30 (currently). April has never been (rationally) regarded as having “some of the coldest temperatures of the year.”

    Lindsey, you might consider no longer interviewing the advocates who are lying to you. At some point, it reflects poorly on your judgment.

    1. I don’t think you know what “regulate” means. Regulate means that, say, the city of Indianapolis could limit security deposits to two months rent.

      There’s no such restrictions in state law … ergo, there is nothing for the city to do but enforce laws. And those laws are the same from Gas City to Gary to Jeffersonville, since those communities obviously have so much in common.

      It’s amazing the Republican hypocrisy … no local ability to control conditions for renters, but a big push to take away zoning control from the city of Indianapolis and give it to … newly created township zoning boards? Make up your mind, local control is either good or it’s bad. Right now, the only philosophy driving the Republican Party is naked power is worth the hypocrisy.

  5. Well said Patrick. A lot of people are misinformed about how the real world works. The continuing quest for government control is ruining our nation. Overregulation is a valid concern. Just look at the state of California, which has taken it to an extreme. Is that what we really want? Has that been good for that state and its people? And we live under a supposed “conservative” governor … Absolute power does corrupt absolutely. Thank God there are landlords who are willing to risk their capital to provide safe and affordable housing for others. If we did not have this scenario, housing would be more expensive and taxes higher in order to pay for those who cannot afford such a necessity and to also subsidize the inefficiencies of government. I know whereof I speak and the last thing we need is for the government to dictate and over-regulate how the private sector is to operate. Most owners are very good and fair. There are some bad landlords as always, and there are bad tenants always looking to find the loopholes and play the game to their advantage. But most tenants are good and most landlords are good. Why do people think it wise to have the government continually sticking their nose into the business of the individual? This is the crux of the argument.

    1. Joe F – + 1. the current system is working just fine – yes there are plenty of laws in place to protect the tenant AND the the landlord. Hogsett can’t properly run a city so he has to blame his problems on someone else. more government is never the answer.

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