INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court has narrowly decided that it will not hear an appeal from a Hammond landlord who was ordered by the city to tear out the five apartments he's rented to tenants in what once was a single-family home.
In a 3-2 decision announced Monday, the state's high court declined to grant transfer to Jose Andrade, thereby leaving intact rulings from the Indiana Court of Appeals and Lake Superior Judge Calvin Hawkins that affirmed the order of the Hammond Board of Public Works and Safety for Andrade to remove the apartments.
Chief Justice Loretta Rush, who lived in Munster as a child, and Justice Geoffrey Slaughter, a former Crown Point resident, indicated that they wanted to hear the case, according to the Supreme Court order denying transfer.
However, they were outvoted by Justices Steven David, Mark Massa and Christopher Goff, who opposed Andrade's petition for Supreme Court review.
As is typical, none of the justices specified why they would have granted or denied transfer in the case.
The Hammond board's order followed a 2016 city inspection of 6609 Jefferson Ave. that found 12 structural issues, 11 fire hazards and six maintenance concerns, all of which rendered the home an unsafe structure under Indiana's Unsafe Building Law, according to court records.
Specifically, records show the unsafe conditions included inadequate fire stopping, lack of fire blocking, flammable support beams, inadequate fire separation, lack of basement apartment bedroom windows, too narrow staircases and inadequate smoke detectors.
The board ordered Andrade to restore the home to a single-family dwelling after determining the building was illegally converted into apartments sometime between its 1927 construction and Andrade's purchasing the property in 1998.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has said it is a top priority for his administration to protect Hammond residents by taking action to eliminate unsafe apartments that have illegally been created out of single-family homes in Lake County's most populous city.