Indiana Landlord Tenant Act

By Anna Assad
apartment for rent image by dead_account from Fotolia.com

In Indiana, state laws cover the rental of apartments, houses and other residential real estate. These laws clarify what is expected of the landlord and the tenant, establish procedures when disagreements or problems arise, and give legal protection to both parties.

Rental Agreement

A rental agreement, or lease, is a contract signed by the tenant and the landlord that specifies all the terms of renting the property. This includes payment of rent, the amount of the security deposit, the duration of the rental, and other conditions or restrictions, such as not smoking in the dwelling. In Indiana, if the rental agreement is for a period longer than three years, it must be filed within 45 days of being signed in the recorder's office of the county where the property is located.

Security Deposits

A security deposit is given to the landlord by the tenant to be held for all or part of the duration of the lease to ensure all the obligations are met. The amount of the deposit is determined by the landlord, but is typically one or two month's rent. Indiana law has procedures for returning the security deposit to the tenant at the termination of the lease. The landlord can deduct owed rent, utility bills that the tenant agreed to pay in writing, or damages suffered because the tenant violated the lease terms from the deposit. In this case, the landlord is required to send the tenant an itemized bill notice within 45 days of the termination of the lease. If money is not owed, the landlord must return the full security deposit to the renter immediately at the end of the lease.

Tenant's Obligations

In Indiana, tenants have obligations under state law. A tenant must comply with all the requirements of health and housing codes, use appliances and fixtures in a reasonable manner, honor the terms of the lease, and not damage or deface any portion of the rental premises. Per section 32-31-7-5 (6) of Indiana Code, a tenant must ensure that each smoke detector in the rental unit works at all times. If the smoke detector is broken, the renter has to notify the landlord in writing. At the termination of the lease, the rental premises have to be in a clean and proper condition, except conditions caused by ordinary wear and tear.

Landlord's Obligations

Like tenants, landlords are required to perform certain duties and comply with Indiana laws. A landlord must deliver the rental premises to the tenant in a clean, safe and livable condition, comply with all health and housing codes, and ensure that the electrical, plumbing and sanitary systems in the unit work properly. Heating and air-conditioning units also have to function correctly, as well as any elevators.

Disputes and Evictions

If the landlord fails to meet the obligations set forth under Indiana law, the tenant must give the landlord notice of the violation and allow access to the unit so the landlord can fix the problem. If the landlord fails to correct the issue within a reasonable time, the tenant can bring an action in court. A landlord can do the same if a tenant is in noncompliance with the tenant obligations. If a tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord can start eviction proceedings to recover the rental unit if the tenant refuses to move after receiving a written notice from the landlord. There are usually two hearings in this state. The first is to determine who has the right to possess the apartment, and the second is to decide whether any money is owed to either party.

Protected Individuals

Additional rights under the landlord tenant laws exist for applicants and renters who are protected individuals, such as victims of domestic crime, stalking or a sex offense as defined under Indiana law. The landlord cannot refuse to enter into or renew a lease, terminate a lease, or retaliate against a renter who is a protected individual or has one in the household. As per 32-31-9-9 of the Indiana Code, a landlord must change the locks of a unit within 48 hours of receiving a written request with a copy a court order from a tenant who falls under this protection.

Effective Dates

Not all provisions of the Indiana landlord tenant act apply to every rental situation. The security deposit section does not affect agreements signed before July 1, 1989. Certain tenant and landlord obligations only apply to agreements entered into after June 30, 2002, and do not apply to units that were rented with an option to buy before July 1, 2008. Additionally, the protected individuals section only applies to leases entered into or renewed after June 30, 2007.

About the Author

Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.