To the Editor:
As a landlord, I feel it is necessary to respond to the editorial, "What about renter's rights," (printed Feb. 8, 2010, in The Brazil Times).
(The writer) states that, "In Indiana, you have no rights as a renter."
The fact is, that Indiana Code Title 32, Article 31, specifically deals with Landlord-Tenant relations. The code covers such areas as creation of tenancy, notice to quit, and remedies against the landlord.
It specifies that a landlord can and cannot do regarding eviction procedures, cutting off utilities, changing locks on the tenant, and providing reasonable notice before entering the unit, etc.
The code also addresses what a tenant can and cannot do, and what procedures a landlord must follow to legally evict a tenant.
Regarding some of the specific issues (the writer) mentions, the code specifies that a landlord must provide and maintain the following in good and safe working condition: electrical systems, plumbing systems sufficient to accommodate a reasonable supply of hot and cold running water at all times, sanitary systems, and heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems. I would strongly advise (the writer) to study the code and, if she believes a landlord is breaking the law, she should take appropriate legal action. The code can be accessed through the Internet, or at the local public library.
As far as a 10-day grace period, while many leases do provide for a grace period, it is not required by Indiana law. If your lease says you have a five or 10-day grace period, and then you do, if it doesn't, then you don't. Every tenant should make sure there is a written lease. Any landlord, or tenant, who enters into a verbal lease agreement, is foolish and just asking for trouble. Get it spelled out in writing.
Finally, implying that all landlords are "slumlords" is the same as a landlord implying that all tenants are bad. Neither is the case. I personally have 20 apartments locally and the overwhelming majority is occupied by good tenants who respect the property and the rent on time.
I strive to do all I can to find good tenants by doing background checks and checking employment, rental and credit history. A tenant can do the same by talking to other tenants of the landlord before renting from them. Bad landlords give all landlords a bad name, just as bad tenants give all tenants a bad name.
While I only have one- and two-bedroom apartments, not the three-bedroom (the writer) is looking for, I can assure you that none of my units are "falling apart." I invest a lot of money into my units to make sure they are in good shape for my tenants. My rule of thumb is that if I wouldn't live there, I can't expect my tenants to either.
There are good landlords out there, just as there are good tenants.
You just have to do your homework to find them.