Final agreements with a bad-acting landlord will keep the water on at four Indianapolis apartment complexes. The deal also bans JPC Affordable Housing from having properties in Indiana.
JPC’s months of unpaid water and gas bills prompted Citizens Energy to give utility shut off notice to tenants last month. That would have left about 1,200 units at Berkley Commons, Covington Square, Capital Place Apartments, and Woods at Oak Crossing without water.
The city, state and Citizens worked together through the legal system to resolve the issue but Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said it shouldn't be this hard.
“It should not take a three way lawsuit by a local government, a utility and a state level official to bring justice in such a clear case of neglect,” Hogsett said.
JPC Affordable Housing racked up hundreds of citations at its properties. The settlement bans the company from owning any property in Indiana for seven years.
The agreement also states that Citizens will keep utilities on through the end of the year or until a new property owner is found.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said it may be time to revisit laws that allowed JPC to function as a nonprofit entity.
“We really ought to look at that nonprofit law to make sure it’s doing what it needs to be done for modern times,” Rokita said.
Other changes to state law that could help avert similar situations would allow tenants to withhold rent for certain reasons including unpaid utilities. Residents’ rent payments at the Indianapolis JPC properties included utilities.
Thousands of people were at risk of losing utilities because of JPC’s inaction. Hogsett had a message for the tenants. “You did not deserve to be treated this way,” he said.
Citizens Energy is owed nearly $2 million and expects to get back about 80 percent of that through the settlement.