INDIANAPOLIS | The Republican-controlled Indiana House voted 67-28 Monday to limit the ability of cities and towns to regulate rental properties in their communities.
House Bill 1403, which now goes to the Senate, permits professional landlords to avoid municipal inspections and associated fees by hiring their own inspectors, who are not required to be independent. Inspections also would be limited to specific apartment features and structures; localities couldn't add items to the inspection list.
The sponsor, state Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, said local governments often are overwhelmed by their inspection programs and private inspections may actually be conducted more often than city inspections.
"I think all of us in here want to make sure that there is safety in these types of places where people are renting housing out, and I think what this bill does is gives us a better opportunity to make sure that they are safe in a better way," McMillin said.
Democratic Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., blasted the House for approving what he calls "the slumlord protection act."
"What makes them think the bad landlords aren't going to get their buddies to inspect the properties, even though there might not be working smoke detectors?" McDermott asked. "This will have an effect on public safety in Hammond, Indiana, and places like Hammond."
McDermott told a House committee last month that limiting the inspection power of local governments likely will lead to more fatal fires similar to the Jan. 8 blaze that killed an adult and two children in a Hammond house that was cut into two apartments.
"When there's another tragedy, I'm going to give people these representatives' phone numbers," McDermott said. "Because they're going to call the mayor and ask how this happened and I'm going to let them know how much our state government supports us. It's a sad day."