Landlord/Tenant Law

Indiana Landlord-Tenant Law

The landlord-tenant relationship can be difficult at times. When a tenant doesn’t clean up the trash piling up on their porch or a landlord refuses to pay to repair a broken dishwasher, you may think that involving a lawyer or taking the other party to court will resolve the issue.

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, you should typically be able to deal with legal issues without going to court. Some landlord-tenant disputes will leave you with no other option. Both parties need to know the basics of renting out a place, how to collect or pay security deposits, about fair housing laws, etc. This overview of key Indiana landlord-tenant laws will help guide you.

Repair and Maintenance Responsibilities

A written lease agreement will outline the duties both the landlord and the tenant have in maintaining the rental property and common areas, including repairs. Indiana’s landlord-tenant laws also define the basic duties of each party. At minimum, landlords must:

  • Observe state and local health, housing and safety codes.
  • Clean and maintain all common areas.
  • Provide, repair and maintain:
    • Air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems.
    • Sanitary services like pest control.
    • Appliances provided as per the lease agreement.
    • Hot and cold water and sewage plumbing systems.

On the other hand, tenants must:

  • Observe state and local health, housing and safety codes.
  • Keep their rental property reasonably clean.
  • Avoid willful damage to the rental property, including damages made by guests.
  • Replace batteries in smoke detectors or inform the landlord about nonfunctional, hard-wired smoke detectors.
  • Use all facilities, utilities and appliances provided by the landlord as reasonably intended or designed to be used.

Indiana Fair Housing Act

Indiana prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on characteristics that are protected by the state’s fair housing laws. Specific actions like placing prospective tenants on a waiting list may be considered discriminatory if the landlord does these things because of a tenant’s:

  • Race
  • Disability
  • Familial status
  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Religion
  • Color
  • Sex
  • National origin

Security Deposits

In most lease agreements in Indiana, landlords charge tenants a security deposit. The security deposit may be used as the tenant’s payment for the last month’s rent but it’s often used by the landlord to pay for:

  • Unpaid rent or rent that would be due if the tenant terminates the lease early.
  • Unpaid utility charges that are the tenant’s responsibility to pay.
  • Repairs to damages to the rental property beyond normal wear and tear.

The security deposit is held by the landlord until the end of the leasing term. Within 45 days after the lease’s termination, the landlord must make any deductions from the deposit, return the remaining balance and provide a written notice to the tenant itemizing the deductions. If the landlord fails to deliver notice, they must refund the full deposit amount.

Lease Agreements

The lease agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship. It is a legally binding contract detailing the responsibilities both the landlord and the tenant promise to uphold. In addition to specifics like amenities, renovations and other apartment features, the lease includes legal details like:

  • The security deposit amount and what it covers.
  • Repair policy and procedures.
  • The rent rate and payment schedule.
  • Roommate and guest policies.
  • The length of the leasing term (weeks, months or years).
  • Grounds for lease termination and eviction.

Getting Legal Help from an Indiana Attorney

While many landlord-tenant conflicts can be resolved without going to court, the laws involved in these conflicts are complex. If you find you are in need of legal counsel or advice, you should consider hiring a landlord-tenant lawyer to represent your interests.

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