Indiana Eviction LawPosted by Christopher Berkompas in Indiana
Note: I am not a lawyer, and this does not constitute legal advice.
What qualifies as a valid legal cause for a landlord to evict a tenant?
The main legal cause for evicting a tenant is simply breaching the terms of the lease. Of the various ways a tenant can do this, the most obvious and also most common is failure to pay rent. However, a tenant could be evicted for many other violations, such as having a pet when the lease forbade it. Criminal activity may also be grounds for eviction.
What are the steps involved in performing an eviction?
The landlord must first inform the tenant of his intent to evict him. This should be done by a written notice delivered to the tenant, containing the following information:
- The name of the tenant
- The address of the property
- The date rent was due, or the violation occurred
- The date the landlord intends to begin eviction proceedings
This gives the tenant an opportunity to pay the back rent or fix the violation. If the tenant does not do so, the landlord may then proceed to the next step, filing a complaint with the small claims court. A copy of the complaint will be served to the tenant, and will state the date of the court hearing which will decide the case. It is essential to the tenant that he appear at this hearing, because if he does not, the court will automatically evict him.
In Indiana, there are two hearings; the first determines whether the tenant should be evicted, and the second will determine what the tenant owes the landlord. After the first hearing, if the tenant was ordered to leave, the sheriff will have authority to forcibly remove the tenant within 42 hours. The landlord will have to arrange this with the Sheriff.
After a tenant has been removed, he must appear at a second hearing to determine how much he owes the landlord. The landlord may be able to recover the back rent or money to repair the property from damage done by the tenant. However, he must do this through the court, since self-help measures are not allowed under Indiana law.
How are landlords supposed to deal with tenant belongings left behind?
The tenant must have at least a week to reclaim any property left in the rental. After that, the landlord may do whatever he wishes with the property.
Can the landlord shut off utilities or lock a tenant out prior to the completion of the eviction process?
Absolutely not, if his purpose is to thereby evict the tenant. As mentioned above, a landlord may not attempt to evict a tenant by himself without using the court system. Therefore, conduct intended to harass the tenant and make him move out is not permitted.
However, a landlord may shut off utilities if necessary to conduct a repair which is truly needed.
Can a tenant be evicted for having a roommate?
Yes, if roommates were forbidden under the lease. The court would very likely consider this to be a substantial violation, and could evict a tenant for it.
Can landlords legally deduct legal fees and court costs from the security deposit?
No. The security deposit must be applied toward back rent and damages to the property, not the costs of litigation. If the landlord desires to recover these costs, he must ask the court to make the tenant pay for them.
Can the tenant fix the problem and remain on the premises, even after the eviction has started?
Yes, but only if the landlord accepts the payment of rent or redress of other grievances. After the eviction has begun, he is not obligated to accept back rent or drop the suit, even if the problem is fixed.
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