INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor has vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have blocked cities from regulating rental properties, which opponents said threatened existing local protections for tenants in several communities around the state.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb issued the veto Wednesday evening, just before his deadline for acting on the bill approved by GOP lawmakers in the final hours of this year’s legislative session.
Holcomb said in a veto letter that the bill’s language was “overly broad,” citing a provision that would’ve prohibited any local rules on landlord-tenant relationships beyond state law.
Holcomb also wrote that economic circumstances have changed significantly with the coronavirus outbreak since lawmakers voted on the bill March 11.
“While I understand the bill was intended to create uniformity between state and local law governing the relationship between landlords and tenants, I believe this is not the right time for such language to become law,” Holcomb wrote.
The bill emerged in late February as Republicans took up the limits backed by the Indiana Apartment Association after the Democratic-controlled Indianapolis City-County Council approved an ordinance that included allowing fines for landlords who retaliate against renters over living condition complaints.
Tenant advocates maintained the proposal would be unfair to the estimated 30%, or some 2 million, of Indiana residents living in rental housing and tilt state law heavily in favor of landlords.
The Indiana Institute for Working Families said it appreciated Holcomb’s decision.
“Compared to renters in other states, Indiana renters are already at a significant disadvantage in terms of their rights and recourse when they encounter a bad landlord,” the group said.
This year’s legislative session ended March 11, but lawmakers could override the governor’s veto by a simple majority through next year’s session.