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Indiana Senate votes to override Holcomb's veto on controversial 2020 landlord-tenant bill

House must still act
Renters and landlords seek clarity in CDC's new eviction moratorium guidance
Posted at 1:47 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 19:44:33-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Senate voted to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of a controversial landlord-tenant relations bill from 2020.

The bill passed last year in the Senate and House, but Holcomb vetoed it in March. The veto override passed in the Senate Monday, 39-17. Eight Republicans voted with nine Democrats to oppose the measure. Two Democrats were excused.

The bill prevents any Indiana city or town from regulating any of the following between landlords and tenants:

  • The screening process used by a landlord in approving tenants to lease privately owned real property
  • Security deposits
  • Lease applications
  • Leasing terms and conditions
  • Disclosures concerning the: property; lease; or rights and responsibilities of the parties; involved in a landlord-tenant relationship
  • The rights of the parties to a lease
  • Any fees charged by a landlord
  • Any other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship.

Senate Republicans said they plan to amend a current 2021 bill to tweak that language, making it more agreeable for Holcomb.

“The [2021] bill will narrow and improve the scope of the intended policy by removing the 'any other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship' language,” Sen. President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said.

Overriding the veto would also nullify an Indianapolis ordinance passed last year. The ordinance requires landlords to give tenants a notice of their rights and responsibilities and fines them if they don’t.

Sen. Vaneta Becker, R- Evansville, criticized some in the legislature for meddling in local governments.

“I am so tired of Marion County sticking its nose in legislatively, into places because they don’t like what he Democratic City-County Council does,” she said. “I am really tired of that kind of legislation and we seem to be doing more and more of it.”

Becker ended up voting to uphold the veto. She also said a representative from Holcomb’s office told her the list of regulations isn’t the only thing he didn’t like about the bill.

Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, presented the veto override to the Senate. He said there should be a standard for all 92 counties for how landlords and tenants are treated. He also defended landlords who may be financially hurting from the pandemic if tenants aren’t or can’t pay.

“There’s another side to that coin,” Freeman said. “If you’re a mom and pop that has bought a second home and you’re renting it out and you’re dependent on that income for your retirement or for your livelihood, since last March these people, a lot of them haven’t received one nickel of rent.”

Holcomb released a statement after Monday’s vote.

“I remain confident in my past decision to veto Senate Enrolled Act 148 last year,” Holcomb said. “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. 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 effect local residents and units of government.”

The initial bill passed the Senate 29-19, with nine Republicans joining all 10 Democrats in opposition. It passed the House 64-32.

The veto override still needs to pass the House.

READ MORE:
Statehouse proposal would limit Indy's ability to regulate landlord-tenant relations
Controversial landlord-tenant preemption passes legislature; would nullify Indy's ordinance
Governor Holcomb vetoes landlord-tenant bill, Hogsett applauds action