Indiana Code (IC) 32-31-8 governs tenants' rights throughout the state of Indiana and codifies a landlord's obligations to a tenant. Typically, leases have an implied warranty of habitability, meaning that rental premises must be habitable and safe to live in. Keeping the rental premises habitable also means that landlords must follow state health and fire codes and maintain common areas.
Overview of Habitability
In landord-tenant law, a warranty of habitability refers to the duties imposed on a landlord. "Implied" means the duties are imposed even if not mentioned in a lease agreement. According to Indiana Code 32-31-8-5, it's a landlord's responsibility to, "Deliver the rental premises to a tenant in compliance with the rental agreement, and in a safe, clean, and habitable condition." Keeping rental premises habitable includes maintaining the structural safety of the building and weatherproofing.
Compliance with State Health Codes and Privacy
Indiana's statute also requires a landlord to comply with Indiana state health and housing codes. These codes require the landlord to make sure the rental premises are maintained and safe for tenants. Tenants also have the right to privacy, meaning a landlord cannot inspect or enter a tenant's apartment without legitimate reason and adequate notice.
Duty to Provide Certain Items
Indiana Code 32-31-8-5 also requires a landlord to provide heat, water and appliances. Additionally, landlords are required to provide sanitary, plumbing and electrical systems. In Indiana, landlords must provide an adequate amount of heat to rental units and a reasonable amount of hot water.
Maintenance of Common Areas
Landlords have a duty to maintain common areas throughout rental premises. Common areas are those shared by all tenants. Common areas may also include fences, parking, landscaping and recreational areas. These areas must be in compliance with Indiana's health and housing codes.
Unhabitibility and Legal Recourse
Tenants in Indiana can choose from a few options in the event a landlord neglects his duties. It's always a good idea to speak with a tenant's rights attorney to determine legal recourse if a landlord is invading a tenant's privacy, not keeping the premises safe and in compliance with health and housing codes, failing to fix appliances, failing to provide adequate heat and hot water or, in other words, creating uninhabitable premises. In Indiana, tenants have the right to put rent money towards repairs in the event a landlord hasn't made repairs within a reasonable time. Tenants also have the right to terminate a lease agreement when premises become uninhabitable. Lastly, any financial damages incurred by a landlord's negligence can be pursued in small claims court.
Andrine Redsteer's writing on tribal gaming has been published in "The Guardian" and she continues to write about reservation economic development. Redsteer holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Washington, a Master of Arts in Native American studies from Montana State University and a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law.