In a recent post we reviewed the rights of tenants to have a habitable rental. In fairness, owning a rental means you are protected with landlord rights. These rights provide some teeth if you decide you need to evict a tenant. Many states have published duties expected of a tenant. In Indiana, the list for what are duties and expectations of a tenant have been defined in case-law and are now recognized in the form of a “Warranty of Habitability.” The expectations are that a tenant must do the following.
Tenant Requirements Under Indiana Warranty of Habitability
- Comply with health and housing codes that apply to tenants.
- Keep the home reasonably clean.
- Not deface, damage, destroy or remove any part of the home.
- Follow all reasonable rules and regulations of the property.
- Deliver the home back to the landlord in a clean and proper condition.
- Ensure smoke detectors work and are not disabled (replace batteries as needed).
- Use the following in a reasonable manner:
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning,
Elevators (if supplied),
Facilities and appliances
A landlord can’t negate all responsibility for providing habitability by faulting a tenant for failure of mechanical systems. The lease may require that certain minor repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the tenant. The “Warranty of Habitability” provides a guideline to follow and may assist a court if legal disputes follow.
If either the landlord or the tenant does not fulfill their duties under the “Warranty of Habitability”, the law says one party may sue the other in court. First, the landlord or tenant must give a notice and reasonable time to fix the problem prior to commencing legal actions. The filing party may receive damages, an order to repair, and reimbursement of attorney fees.
Unlike some states, Indiana does not have a law that allows tenants to withhold rent or make repairs and deduct them from rent. A tenant who believes they must take one of these actions may find themselves receiving an eviction notice.
Landlords have rights also. The good news is that a landlord has a defined, simple, path to follow when these rights are violated. It is called eviction.