Indiana renters continuing to struggle with unsafe property conditions

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — There are many South Bend tenants who are living in what they say are unsafe conditions.

According to records obtained by ABC57 news from the city through the Freedom of Information Act, the privately owned property, Cedar Glen Apartments had 35 calls to code enforcement complaining about living conditions since 2022.

Eight of those calls involved heat issues and thirteen about the lack of hot water.

Karl King Towers, another privately owned property, has complaints of bed bug infestations and no hot water.

Karl King Towers is owned by an investment company out of new jersey and has a mailing address to a PO box in Atlanta. This makes It difficult to get help from the property owner. But it’s not just apartment complexes in South Bend having problems.

Out of state investors are buying property in Indiana and placing the properties into a limited liability corporation, better known as an LLC.

This offers an investor a layer of protection because each property is now its own business.

Bryan Karp is an expert real estate investor who has invested in more than 20 properties himself, all of them are LLC’s.

He tells me this is common practice and legal to do.

The current laws in Indiana make it easy for investors to buy distressed property with low risk.

The senate proposed two bills this year, 277 and 243, that would have strengthened tenants’ rights statewide.

Republican senator Greg Walker co-authored both of those bills.

“If they’re willing to do so, and able to do so and continue to pay for the property that is not habitable. That money would be held in escrow account until the judge makes a determination maybe through an inspection by the health department or whatever vehicle that takes to hold those dollars until they can be released back to the landlord for having fulfilled their contractional agreements.”

The bill would have also put restrictions on out-of-state property owners.

There’s just one problem.

“Going forward, I don’t see a lot of paths this year. And so just wanted to say that myself and many others are going to perform a postmortem on 2024,” said the senator.

This is the third year in a row that tenant rights bills failed.

“So, the state has precluded the cities from doing a lot of things proactively. So, it’s called preemption when the state steps and says, a city or local governments are not able to take legislative action on certain things,” Mayor James Mueller on whether the city could create legislation on the local level to address the issues.

So essentially, the city is restricted from creating local laws on matters like housing.

“This is one area where they have done that, and there are limited things that we can do without further state action,” said Mayor Mueller.

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