October 26, 2021

Housing advocates worry Supreme Court order on eviction diversion won't be effective

An Indiana Supreme Court order requires judges to tell landlords and tenants in an eviction hearing about available resources – emergency rental assistance, legal help and a state landlord-tenant settlement program. - Brandon Smith/IPB News

An Indiana Supreme Court order requires judges to tell landlords and tenants in an eviction hearing about available resources – emergency rental assistance, legal help and a state landlord-tenant settlement program.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Updated Oct. 27

Indiana housing advocates fear the state Supreme Court’s effort to help curb evictions won’t be very effective.

The Court’s order requires judges to tell landlords and tenants in an eviction hearing about available resources – emergency rental assistance, legal help and a state landlord-tenant settlement program.

Andrew Bradley, Prosperity Indiana policy director, said the order is a good start. But he said the state’s policy landscape is still a major problem.

“We haven’t done things like make a settlement conference required," Bradley said. "We're one in fewer than 10 states that [does not have] a repair and deduct clause that allows people to repair habitability problems or that we don’t have source of income protection that would require providers to accept money that has been allocated, such as this emergency rental assistance.”

The Court’s order doesn’t require landlords to work with tenants to use those resources and avoid evictions.

READ MORE: Less than 20 percent of Hoosier households in need of rent help getting resources


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Bradley noted that the Supreme Court Task Force that recommended the order didn’t include many community organizations that work directly with Hoosiers going through evictions. One area, he said, where that representation can have an impact is another facet of the Court's order.

It directed that records of the eviction proceeding are generally kept confidential, unless one of the parties stops participating in the diversion efforts or breaks a settlement.

Bradley said allowing one side to essentially deny confidentiality can be especially harmful. He called eviction filings – not actual evictions, just filings – a "scarlet E" that Hoosiers carry around. Those filing records can often make it more difficult to find housing.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Indiana is one of fewer than ten states with a repair and deduct clause. That was incorrect, Andrew Bradley misspoke. Indiana is one of fewer than ten states without such a clause.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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