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TENANT’S RIGHTS IN TERMINATING THE TENANCY

 

There are several statutes that have been enacted which grant Tenants certain rights with regards to their tenancy and the right to terminate a lease.   These statutes include, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Indiana Code 32-31-9-12 which protects tenants who are subject to domestic violence, and Indiana Code 32-31-8-6 which protects tenants from premises that have become a health or safety hazard can also terminate a tenancy.

 

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protect those who serve their country by granting them special rights. Some of those rights include the ability to break rental leases, protection from eviction, and protection from default judgments.  The SCRA is designed to assist those who are called into active duty, so their lives and the lives of their family members are not adversely affected. The SCRA covers all active duty members, and reservists who are called for military service and ordered to active duty for more than thirty (30) days.

Under Title III of the SCRA servicemembers who are called to active duty longer than 180 days may terminate lease agreements upon thirty (30) days’ notice by providing the notice in writing to the landlord along with a copy of their military orders.  The SCRA also grants courts the authority to postpone an eviction of a servicemember, their spouse, children and dependents. The court typically postpones the eviction for three (3) months, but the Judge has the discretion to make the postponement shorter or greater in length or not postpone the eviction at all depending on the circumstances.  Indiana law requires that the Landlord provide a verification to the court prior to requesting a default judgment.  If the verification is not made to the Court, then a default judgment may be denied.  Additionally, if a servicemember returns to find a default judgment has been entered against them, then they have the ability to demand that the case be re-opened and the default judgment be set aside. http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2011/03/23/scratext.pdf

Victims of Domestic Violence

Indiana provides special protections to tenants who are the victims of domestic violence.  The statutes provide that the Landlord is entitled to proof (such as a court order) of the domestic violence status.  Once proof of domestic violence status is presented to the landlord then the tenant is afforded many rights.  The landlord may not refuse to rent to a victim of domestic violence, and cannot terminate a lease of a tenant who is the subject of domestic violence.  The tenant can also terminate the lease early, or can change the locks on the premises.  http://codes.findlaw.com/in/title-32-property/#!tid=NFCB37D4003CE11DC80E4AF77B309738E

Indiana Code 32-31-8-5

Indiana Code 32-31-8-5 imposes several obligations upon the landlord with regards to the leased premises.  The landlord must deliver the premises in compliance with the rental agreement and in a safe, clean and habitable condition.  The landlord must also comply with all housing and health codes.  Additionally, the landlord must ensure that the utilities such as the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC are in proper and working order.

If a tenant deems a landlord to not be in compliance with Indiana Code 32-31-8-5 then a tenant may bring an action against the landlord under Indiana Code 32-31-8-6.  Before a tenant brings an action against the landlord under this statute they must first provide landlord with a notice of non-compliance and allow a reasonable amount of time for the landlord to remedy the situation.  If the landlord fails to remedy the issue after proper notice and the tenant prevails in an action under this chapter, then the tenant is entitled to damages, attorney fees and costs, and in some instances termination of the lease.  http://statecodesfiles.justia.com/indiana/2014/title-32/article-31/chapter-8/chapter-8.pdf