In Indiana, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Indiana varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Indiana law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Indiana
Landlord Responsibilities. Indiana’s landlords are required to provide and maintain several key amenities on behalf of their tenants. These essential amenities are codified in the state’s “warranty of habitability” and include the following:
- Walls, floors, and roofs that are properly waterproofed
- Properly-functioning toilets
- A reliable furnace and heating system
- Windows and doors that operate correctly and can be locked
- Sufficient supply of hot and cold water
- Safe electric wiring, outlets, and lighting
- Adequate plumbing
- Smoke detectors
Tenants in Indiana are entitled to all of these amenities because the state has determined that they allow for a safe and hospitable environment. As such, when one of these amenities breaks down or loses efficiency, the tenant in question is responsible for promptly reporting it to their landlord. That landlord then has a “reasonable amount of time” to make any and all necessary repairs (though current statutes do not define this generalized time frame with any precision).
Tenant Responsibilities. Tenants in Indiana are responsible for keeping their rented space clean and habitable, in accordance with all relevant state and local health codes. This includes preventing obstructions or hazards from interfering with other tenants’ enjoyment of their units. Indiana state law does allow landlords to request a tenant make appropriate changes if this cleanliness standard is breached. However, it does not specify how long the tenant has to act before they can face eviction.
The status of an Indiana tenant’s right to so-called “alternative action” against their landlord is currently unclear. While the state’s statutes do not directly protect a tenant’s right to, for example, perform a “repair and deduct” procedure, current norms indicate that they still occur in practice across the state. However, withholding rent outright does not appear to be common in Indiana, so tenants are generally encouraged to avoid it.
Evictions in Indiana
Indiana sets forth these common causes for which a landlord may justifiably evict their tenant:
- Nonpayment of rent – Indiana tenants must pay rent promptly, including during any applicable grace period. If rent is still not received after any grace period ends, then a landlord may issue a written 10-Day Notice to Pay. If the full amount of rent is still not paid after this notice period, then the landlord may proceed with formal eviction by filing a Summons and Complaint.
- Violation of lease terms – When a landlord in Indiana documents a lease violation on their tenant’s part, they may issue a 10-Day Notice to that tenant that indicates how such a violation may be cured. If the tenant fails to take appropriate action during that 10 day period, then the landlord may file a Summons and Complaint and proceed with formal eviction.
- Illegal Acts – Indiana does not enumerate which acts or behaviors are “illegal” in the context of a lease agreement. As such, landlords are given a fair amount of discretion over which activities exhibited by their tenants are “illegal.” This includes activities that are not necessarily “illegal” by civil code standards. Regardless, landlords may immediately evict any tenant found to be acting in an illegal manner by filing an Unconditional Notice to Quit.
Evictions without a lease. Indiana landlords are required to provide notice of their intent to evict a tenant, even if the tenant in question is renting without the protections of a lease agreement. However, Indiana only provides this right to month-to-month renters, who are entitled to 30 days’ notice prior to an eviction. Fixed term renters are not entitled to any notice, but this is because their end date is already set in stone.
Illegal Evictions. Indiana state law prohibits discriminatory evictions as part of its fair housing provisions. As such, tenants living in the state cannot be forced to vacate their rented property chiefly because they are a part of a state or federal protected class (including race, religion, sex, or disability, among others). This includes tenants who own or use a service animal, which are not subject to pet policy instituted by a landlord in Indiana.
Security Deposits in Indiana
To legally collect, maintain, and redistribute security deposits in Indiana, landlords are required to follow these state-mandated guidelines:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Indiana does not currently limit, in terms of value, how much a landlord can charge as a security deposit. This includes supplementary deposits, such as those made to allow for pet tenancy. As such, landlords in Indiana are viewed as being free to charge as much as they want when it comes to security deposits.
- Interest and Maintenance – Indiana landlords are not currently required to maintain their collected security deposits in any specific type of bank account or escrow. In the same vein, Indiana landlords are not required to collect or redistribute any interest that may or may not accrue on their deposits while they are maintained.
- Time Limit for Return – After a tenant moves out, an Indiana landlord has 45 days to return all or part of their security deposit. In the case of the latter, the landlord must provide an itemized list of deductions that includes pricing estimates for each individual deduction. Returned security deposits can be provided as a check or in cash.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If an Indiana landlord fails to return a security deposit on time, they may become liable to pay twice the deposit’s value as a penalty. This includes if the landlord in question makes deductions and does not provide an itemized list explaining why and at what rate those deductions were made.
- Allowable Deductions – Landlords in Indiana are able to make security deposit deductions for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Reimbursement for damages that go beyond regular “wear and tear”
- Cover for rent owed at time of lease termination
- Cover for unpaid utilities (including sewer charges)
Lease Termination in Indiana
Notice Requirements. If a tenant wants to legally break off their lease early, they must provide the following amounts of written notice to their landlord:
- Month-to-Month Lease – 1 Month of Notice
- Yearly Lease without an End Date – 3 Months of Notice
In both cases, the precise number of days changes depending on the length of the month or months preceding the intended end date.
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. In most situations, tenants in Indiana are able to break off their lease early by following the requirements of an early termination clause in their lease agreement. However, when this option is not available (often due to a lack of such a clause altogether), Indiana tenants may choose to legally break off their lease for any of the following reasons:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – Landlords are required to maintain their rentable units in a safe and clean condition, even when they are occupied. If they fail to do so (in accordance with standards set out in the state’s warranty of habitability), an affected tenant may consider themselves “constructively evicted.” This, in turn, may allow them to immediately terminate their lease agreement on the grounds that their landlord violated their legal obligations.
- Landlord Harassment – Landlords in Indiana are only limited in the right of entry to “reasonable” times. However, such a broad standard can be defined in the terms of a lease agreement. If such terms are regularly breached, a tenant may be able to claim that their landlord is breaching their privacy. This may act as a justification for terminating an applicable lease immediately.
- Domestic Violence – If a tenant in Indiana produces evidence that they have been a victim of domestic abuse, then a landlord must allow them to terminate their lease with at least 30 days of advance notice.
Indiana tenants who are able to successfully end their lease early still may be responsible for paying rent until a new renter is found for their former unit. In such cases, Indiana landlords are not required to take reasonable steps to re-rent that unit or take any steps designed to reasonably limit their damages from your lease termination. As such, Indiana tenants should be financially prepared when choosing this path towards early termination.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Indiana
Rent control & increases. Indiana preempts local rent control provisions at a state government level. As such, no local jurisdictions in the state are able to maintain a viable rent control policy. In turn, landlords across Indiana are generally viewed as being able to charge as much as they want for rent. However, Indiana does require that all affected tenants receive 30 days of advance notice (in writing) when a landlord decides to raise rent.
Rent related fees. Indiana does not currently maintain a statute that dictates how much a landlord can charge for a late rent fee. The state also does not indicate when a late rent fee can be applied, but it is generally understood that fees applied during an agreed upon grace period cannot be justified.
Indiana does limit the value of returned check fees, however. Specifically, landlords operating in Indiana cannot charge more than $25 per instance of a bounced check.
Housing Discrimination in Indiana
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Indiana does not maintain any additional protected classes under state law, including in the field of fair housing. As such, individuals not covered under the federal Fair Housing Act are not eligible to file a complaint pf discrimination against their landlord in Indiana.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission dictates that several activities undertaken by landlords operating in the state may be considered discriminatory if their purpose is to directly or indirectly discriminate against one or more protected classes. Though not exhaustive, these are a few potentially discriminatory actions for which a landlord may be reported:
- Refusing to rent or sell an otherwise available unit or property
- Falsely denying availability of a unit
- Refusing to make a mortgage loan
- Imposing differing conditions between tenants
- Threatening, coercing, or intimidating tenants out of exercising their fair housing rights
- Refusing to make reasonable accommodations
After a process of investigation, mediation, and determination, Indiana landlords who are found to have discriminated against a current or prospective tenant are liable to pay fines or face licensing sanctions. Individuals who wish to learn more about this process or make a report can do so here.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Indiana
These are just a few more specific Indiana landlord-tenant laws that you may want to know about before entering into a new lease agreement.
Landlord Entry. Indiana does not set forth a solid standard for how much notice a landlord must provide when entering an occupied unit. Instead, the state only dictates that landlords may only enter occupied units at “reasonable” times. As such, without a lease agreement provision that sets how and for what reasons a landlord may enter, they are entitled to enter whenever they wish (including to make repairs or show the space to prospective renters).
Even with an active lease agreement stating otherwise, it is generally accepted that landlords in Indiana can enter an occupied unit without notice when an emergency situation immediately threatens the occupants health or safety.
Small Claims Court. Some landlords and tenants in Indiana choose to mediate their disputes using the state’s small claims court system. However, only cases valued at $6,000 or less can be accepted in this venue. Eviction cases can be heard in these courts, but they are subject to the same value limitation as non-eviction cases.
Marion County, Indiana, maintains a different small claims court system than the rest of the state. As such, residents of Indianapolis and the surrounding area should click here to learn more about filing a small claims court case in their area.
Mandatory Disclosures. Indiana landlords are statutorily obligated to inform their tenants of certain topics prior to their new lease agreement becoming active. To be specific, these following disclosures must be made at the time a new agreement is signed:
- Lead-based paint. For houses built prior to 1978, federal law requires landlords to provide tenants with information about lead based paint hazards. Read more.
- Managers and Agents. Landlords in Indiana must furnish, in writing, the names and addresses of any individuals certified to manage their tenant’s property. This includes any agents or intermediaries who may reasonably act on the behalf of those managers.
- Flooding. Starting in 2009, landlords who are issuing or renewing a lease must inform their tenant if their unit lies within a “100-year flood plain.”
Changing the Locks. In Indiana, landlords are expressly forbidden from precipitating a “lockout “or otherwise unilaterally changing their tenant’s locks without their permission. However, a landlord may be obligated to change a tenant’s locks if that tenant makes a request in writing relating to their status as a domestic abuse victim. Such a request must come with supporting evidence and a court order.
Indiana Landlord-Tenant Resources
There’s more to learn about Indiana’s landlord-tenant laws. These digital resources will help you learn about these statutes on your own so that you can enter into your next lease agreement with confidence:
Compiled Landlord-Tenant Laws – This concise document outlines every provision from Indiana’s current civil code that applies to landlord-tenant relationships and behaviors. This digest can be particularly useful for landlords or tenants who are trying to make a case against the other party that pertains to their state-mandated obligations.
Representing Yourself in Indiana Small Claims Court – This helpful video clearly communicates the requirements for filing in Indiana’s small claims courts, as well as the procedures used to mediate a case. This video is great for first time applicants (outside of Marion County) who wish to learn about the Indiana small claims court system before filing a case against their landlord or tenant.
Housing Rights of Domestic Violence Survivors – This guide covers laws relating to the protection of domestic abuse survivors and victims in all US states. However, the Indiana section provides a concise digest of how this state’s relevant laws have been applied in practice since they were instituted.