If you’re a Landlord or Property Manager in Indianapolis, you should, by now, be familiar with the Indianapolis Tenant Protection Initiatives recently passed by our City.
If not, you can get a recap of the initiatives, which go into effect on July 1, 2020, by reading a blog we recently wrote on the topic:
Generally, we don't have any major issues with any of the initiatives. In the opinion of Mayor Joe Hogsett, a few really bad Landlords have required government to take some action to better protect Tenants.
In reality, the only real change to a Landlord's or Property Manager's day-to-day operations is the implementation of the “Notice of Tenants Rights and Responsibilities.”
Once termed by some as the Tenants "Bill of Rights," this document is actually much more than that.
In today's blog, we wanted to share 3 tips for navigating this new requirement.
Before we do that, let's quickly examine the document itself.
What is the indianapolis "Notice of Tenant Rights and Responsibilities?"
This is really a pretty straight forward, one-page document with an additional page designated for acknowledgments and signatures.
You can download the full version here: Tenant's Rights Notice
The name says it all, actually.
The first several bullet points in the document lay out a Tenants "rights" within the state of Indiana.
It's not one-sided, Landlord-friendly, or Tenant-friendly.
For example, a Tenant has a right to a "safe and livable home," a "basic right to privacy" and the right "to be free from discrimination."
The document also lists out the various "responsibilities" a Tenant has to his or her Landlord as well.
The first "responsibility" noted should make all Landlords happy.
"Indiana law requires that tenants pay rent. You should not stop paying rent, or other amounts you owe under the lease, to force your landlord to make repairs or provide upkeep on your rental unit without consulting with a lawyer first."
The document also notes other protections within the broader initiatives, including:
- Details on the Tenant Information Hotline
- The fact that retaliation against a Tenant by a Landlord is illegal
- The requirement by the Landlord to provide the Tenant a signed copy of the Notice
So, it's not a scary document at all.
We welcome it and feel like it will set the stage for a more productive Tenancy.
So, again, let’s review 3 tips for Landlords and Property Managers while implementing this Notice.
Tip #1 - Implement the Notice in every new lease, renewal or extension
You may be thinking, "well, doesn't the law already require that?"
Yes and no.
Since we make annual changes to our Lease Agreement, we always send out a brand new, full Lease whenever we sign a renewal. So, we'll clearly include the Notice in this scenario and you should, too.
For those of you who do simple amendments to extend your Lease for another year, you will need to ensure to include the Notice in this scenario as well.
But, what if you simply extend the terms of your Lease for one month and generate an Amendment?
We advise that you send the Notice along with the Amendment in this case, too.
Over-compliance is never a bad thing.
Tip #2 - Implement the Notice in all Leases you sign, regardless of location
One of the major arguments against passage of the Tenant Protection Initiatives was that many Property Managers and Landlords manage homes in different parts of Indiana.
So, the idea of managing a special set of requirements for the Indianapolis properties was viewed, by some, as too cumbersome.
Our plan is to add the Notice to all leases we sign, renew or extend, regardless of location.
So, if we sign a Lease in Greenwood, for example, these Tenants will still sign the same Notice as those Tenants who sign in Indianapolis.
There are a couple of reasons for this:
- It's easier to administrate.
- The rights and responsibilities listed in the Notice are just as applicable to Greenwood Tenants as they are Indianapolis Tenants and we want our Tenants, regardless of location, to be informed.
Note: Keep in mind that all Tenants who reside outside Marion County will not have access to the Legal Hotline.
Tip #3 - Keep good records
If you use e-signing software (which we highly encourage you to do so) you should be in good shape.
Most e-signing software sends fully executed copies of documents to both the Landlord and Tenant upon completion.
Simply save this document in a secure location and you are all set.
But, for those of you who do not use e-signing software, you'll want to ensure that you keep signed copies of this Notice on file and also provide the Tenants with a fully executed copy as well.
Sounds pretty basic, but it's really not.
A quick side story...
We assume management of multiple homes each month. These homes usually come from other management companies in Indianapolis, but some come from private landlords as well.
It's shocking the number of homes we begin managing where the Landlord or Property Manager cannot locate the Lease.
Failure to comply with this requirement could result in a $500 penalty for each impacted Tenant.
So, good record keeping, especially now, is a must.