Errington hopeful for future as the Homeowner Protection Unit secures funds for tenants
On Monday, a Muncie rental company agreed to refund a total of $35,000 to their tenants. Middletown Property Management LLC and Middletown Property Group LLC were implicated for the alleged use of unfair and deceptive practices. The property group used the unregistered trade name “BSU Rentals”- even though they have no association with the university. Some other violations by the company include invasion of privacy without proper notice, units in unsanitary conditions and the use of a deceptive redecoration fee.
Recent changes in tenant law have increased the likelihood of duplicitous situations. In 2020, Senate Bill 148 passed which put anti-retaliation language in state law. SB 148 stops cities and counties from regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants- leaving it to state officials. With local governments unable to intervene, many renters have felt powerless in property disagreements. During her tenure as a legislator, State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) has attempted to increase tenant protections. Last session, she authored House Bill 1148 which would allow tenants to take enforcement actions against their negligent landlords. This bill died in committee. Errington remains undeterred in her fight to improve the well-being of renting Hoosiers.
Rep. Errington offered the following statement regarding the recent housing victory in Muncie:
“Stable housing is essential to an individual’s security, success and well-being. In Muncie, some property management companies have been using predatory practices to make a profit. They’ve targeted our more vulnerable groups, like college students and the elderly. While there are many good landlords in Muncie, deceitful practices have thrived thanks to decreased restrictions. I’m pleased that the Homeowner Protection Unit stepped in and protected Muncie tenants. This is the start of change, it's a push forward, but there’s still a lot to be done.
“This battle with Middletown Properties is proof that Indiana needs stronger renter protections. Hoosier Democrats are committed to introducing protective legislation. State Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) has fought for increased rights in the Senate, and I plan to continue the fight in the House. We in the General Assembly need to give Hoosier renters the stability they deserve.”