Judge: Hammond rental sign-up fee disparity unconstitutional

2012-07-24T22:00:00Z 2012-07-25T00:00:04Z Judge: Hammond rental sign-up fee disparity unconstitutionalBy Marisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

FORT WAYNE | A federal court judge on Tuesday declared part of a Hammond ordinance unconstitutional because it required landlords who live outside the city to pay a higher rental registration fee than landlords who live within city limits, court records show.

U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Springmann's ruling eliminates the disparity in the amount of the rental registration fee. The fee itself and the remainder of the city ordinance still are in effect.

The judge's ruling came as a result of a settlement between the city of Hammond and the Indiana Apartment Association. The association sued the city in 2010 to challenge the constitutionality of basing the amount of a rental registration fee on residency, court records show.

The original ordinance charged an $80 annual fee per existing apartment unit, but set a discounted $20 per unit fee for the first 20 units owned by a Hammond resident.

In a settlement filed earlier this year, Hammond city officials agreed that portion of the rental ordinance was unconstitutional. City officials also agreed to pay $150,000 to the Indiana Apartment Association for the organization’s legal fees.

Indianapolis-based attorney Geoffrey Slaughter, who represented the association, said his client was pleased with the court's resolution. He declined further comment.

Attorneys representing the city could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

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