Landlord accountability bill headed to governor

A bill authored by state District 44 Sen. Eric Koch that protects tenants from unscrupulous landlords passed the General Assembly unanimously and is headed to the governor for final consideration.

Senate Enrolled Act 114 would allow utility companies to ask courts to appoint receivers over certain landlords who have failed to pay their property’s utility bills after collecting the payment in rent from tenants, according to a news release from Koch’s office.

Koch, R-Bedford, filed the bill following reports of an Indiana landlord collecting and keeping utility payments from residents instead of passing them to the complex’s utility company. The landlord accrued more than $1 million in unpaid bills and water was shut off to hundreds of tenants on the property.

SEA 114 would ensure properties of four units or more, excluding cases where tenants directly pay their utility bills, forward payments to the property’s utility company.

“There is no reason for families to be without water or electricity, or even removed from their home, when they make timely utility payments and their property owner is the irresponsible actor,” Koch said. “Tenants should be able to trust their landlord to always handle their money appropriately, and SEA 114 provides a remedy for enforcement that doesn’t exist today.”

SEA 114 received unanimous support from the General Assembly throughout the legislative process and is backed by multiple organizations, including Citizens Energy Group, the Indiana Apartment Association, AARP Indiana, Citizens Action Coalition and many others.

The governor has until Monday to take action on the bill.

Koch is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Utilities.

Senate District 44 includes all or parts of Jackson, Brown, Lawrence, Monroe and Orange counties. Koch may be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 800-382-9467.