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INDIANAPOLIS–A tenant’s rights and a landlord’s rights may be more clearly defined by the state legislature. A bill to do that was introduced in response to the Indianapolis City-County Council’s effort to crack down on landlords who may evict people out of malice.

If the state law passes (SB 340) it may essentially render the new city ordinance null and void and keep other cities from making similar rules.

Part of the Indy ordinance states that both tenants and landlords get a card with their rights printed on it. The other part states that if a landlord is found to evict someone as a form of revenge or retaliation, they would pay a fine. Under the city ordinance the money would go to the city. Under the proposed state law, it would go to the tenant, or the injured party.

The new bill is not so much about what is happening in Indianapolis, as it is about making sure the state retains its domain over landlord-tenant relationships and leases, said Lynn Peterson, with the Indiana Apartments Assoc., talking to IndyPolitics.

LINK: IndyPolitics interview with Lynn Peterson

“If we start seeing municipalities starting to make their own regulations it causes problems in our industry. It is confusing for an owner who owns properties in several cities and it can create them to have different leases in those cities,” said Peterson.

She said her group would like to avoid a “patchwork of laws” across the state.

Peterson said it is rare for people to be evicted in retaliation because eviction is an expensive and extensive process.

“When someone has not paid their rent or violated their lease, they (the landlord) go to court and the judge rules on this,” she said. “It’s not as if people are evicting tenants all the time for various reasons. There’s a process that’s been set up in the courts in Indiana.”

That process normally takes 30 to 45 days.