With a bit of research, both landlords and tenants can often deal with many landlord-tenant related legal questions without the assistance of a lawyer. For many non-lawyers, the biggest challenge is figuring out where to start—for example, how to find statutes and laws that apply to their situation. Here’s an overview of Indiana’s landlord-tenant laws that can help landlords and tenants understand the basics of applicable Indiana laws, along with suggestions on where to look next.
Under Indiana law, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants (usually in the lease or rental agreement). Some of the required disclosures in Indiana include:
For details, see Indiana Required Landlord Disclosures.
Indiana state law does not limit how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. However, it does require landlords to return security deposits (or an itemization of how it was applied) to tenants not more than 45 days after termination of the tenancy and delivery of the rental back to the landlord. (Ind. Code Ann. § 32-31-3-12 (2020).) See Indiana Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines for more on the subject.
Parties who bring lawsuits in Indiana small claims courts can seek up to $8,000 in damages (the limit in Marion County might be higher—check with court clerk for latest limit). (Ind. Code Ann. § 33-28-3-4 (2020).) For more information, see the Indiana Courts Small Claims Manual.
When Indiana landlords and tenants enter into a lease (usually for the duration of one year), the landlord cannot raise the rent or change the lease in any way during the term of the lease unless otherwise stated in the lease or agreed to in a writing signed by the landlord and tenant.
When the tenancy is created by a rental agreement (an agreement to rent for a shorter term, such as month-to-month), the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days’ written notice before changing the rent (or any other provision of the agreement), unless another notice period has been agreed to in the rental agreement. (Ind. Code Ann. § 32-31-5-4 (2020).)
In Indiana, landlords can terminate a tenancy immediately (no notice is required) when:
See Ind. Code Ann. § 32-31-1-8 (2020).
When Indiana tenants don’t pay rent, landlords can terminate the tenancy, but must first give tenants a ten day notice to pay the rent or quit (leave the rental). (Ind. Code Ann. § 32-31-1-8 (2020).)
Indiana law sets forth specific duties tenants must uphold while renting. (Ind. Code Ann. § 32-31-7-5 (2020).) When Indiana tenants don’t uphold these duties or substantially violate the terms of their lease (other than by not paying rent), landlords can sue tenants to enforce the obligations. However, before suing a tenant, the landlord must give the tenant notice of the tenant’s violations, as well as a reasonable amount of time to remedy the situation. The landlord will be entitled to recover damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs, injunctive relief, and any other remedy that the court believes is appropriate (including eviction). (Ind. Code Ann. § 32-31-7-7 (2020).)
Landlords in Indiana may also take action against tenants when tenants create certain types of nuisances (see Ind. Code Ann. § 32-30-6-1 (2020) and following), or commit drug offenses on the property (see Ind. Code Ann. § 32-30-8-1 (2020) and following).
Because the eviction process in Indiana involves a lot of steps that landlords must follow closely in order to be successful, landlords should consider consulting a local landlord-tenant attorney for assistance.
Several other landlord-tenant laws in Indiana affect both property owners and renters, including:
Both landlords and tenants can perform legal research on their own. If you just want to browse through the Indiana landlord-tenant law, the Indiana General Assembly has posted Indiana’s statutes online. You can find state statutes at Ind. Code Ann. § § 32-31-1-1 to 32-31-9-15. You can search the table of contents for the landlord-tenant statutes. Or, if you don’t know the exact statute number, you can enter a keyword that is likely to be in it, such as “nonpayment of rent.”
In addition to accessing state laws via the Internet, Indiana statutes are available in many public libraries and in most law libraries that are open to the public (typically found in a county courthouse or at the state capitol or in a publicly-funded law school).
Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and antidiscrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. Many municipalities have websites—just search for the name of a particular city in Indiana and then do a search when you’re on the city’s site.
State and Local Government on the Net and Municode are good sources for finding local governments online. Also, your local public library or office of the city attorney, mayor, or city or county manager can provide information on local ordinances that affect landlords and tenants in Indiana.
While most landlords and tenants will primarily be concerned with state law in Indiana, several federal laws come into play. Congress has enacted laws, and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have adopted regulations, covering discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.
The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”), also organized by subject into 50 separate titles.
Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research page includes links to state and federal laws, explains how to research and understand statutes, and provides advice on finding local ordinances and court cases, including Supreme Court cases. To go further, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias and the Editors of Nolo (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.