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Lawsuit threat against Lakeside Pointe owners a chance for city to clarify public nuisance statute

Posted at 7:51 AM, Jan 27, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — The clock is ticking for the owners of Lakeside Pointe at Nora.

They have until Monday to address maintenance issues that have led to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions — mold, leaks, HVAC issues, fires that have displaced dozens of people — or they could face a lawsuit from the City of Indianapolis and the Marion County Public Health Department.

"Even though Indiana law requires landlords to provide safe, clean, habitable housing to their tenants, this is often not the case," Brandon Beeler, Housing Director of Indiana Legal Services, said.

He and other community advocates and leaders announced the potential lawsuit on Tuesday at the City-County Building. They're planning to use the state's public nuisance statute to file the lawsuit.

RELATED | Hogsett threatens lawsuit against owners of troubled Lakeside Pointe at Nora apartments

"We have a negligent property owner who's not doing anything in response to years of suits from the health department and most recently from the City of Indianapolis, not to mention the Attorney General's Office," said Jeff Bennett, deputy mayor of community development.

City officials hope that filing a lawsuit with the Marion County Public Health Department will increase the odds that this will lead to change.

In 2018, a court ruled that under the nuisance statute, Indianapolis could not seek reimbursement for numerous emergency service calls to another troubled apartment complex. This ruling is why the city wants clarification on the law.

"We've not filed jointly with the Marion County Health Dept a public nuisance case, so that's pushing the envelope on the interpretation of the public nuisance statute," Bennett said.

The city and health department hope their actions create change for the better. Not just for people across Marion County dealing with unsafe and unfixed apartment issues.

"(We will) use this opportunity as a test case to shine a light on what might be discrepancies or unclarity in state law. It helps us in the short term with the living conditions at Lakeside Pointe and in the long term, our ability to hold bad actors accountable all over Marion County," Bennett said.

WRTV did not receive a comment from Lakeside Pointe at Nora's owners for this story.