INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier lawmakers have rejected a proposal to increase the maximum registration fee that municipalities may annually charge to rental property owners.
State Rep. Chris Campbell, D-West Lafayette, attempted Monday to amend Senate Bill 171 to increase the highest allowable fee to $150 per rental property, instead of the current $5 maximum.
She said the fee increase is needed to preserve West Lafayette's rental safety program after the Indiana Supreme Court last month ruled, in a case filed by the city of Hammond, that West Lafayette and Bloomington are not entitled to an exemption from the $5 fee restriction.
"This has been a very positive and very important thing that we've done in our community to keep students safe while they are at Purdue," Campbell said.
State Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, also pleaded for the fee hike, so his hometown has the tools it needs to ensure students attending Indiana University live in safe rental housing.
In addition, the fee increase was endorsed by state Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City, and state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, who both argued that rental properties are like any business that must be inspected, and $5 doesn't cover the cost.
"This isn't just an issue that affects college towns. The city of Hammond is an older city, in transition, and there are a lot of really big, old homes that have been chopped up into apartments," Candelaria Reardon said.
"These inspection programs are essential and they cost money, they cost money to run. This fee is reasonable."
State Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, co-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, did not dispute that there may be some value to the rental registration program.
But he said going from a $5 annual fee to $150 a year is "a dramatic fee increase — one that I cannot support."
Nearly all of Huston's fellow state representatives concurred. Campbell's proposal was defeated, 73-21.