INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An executive order put in place by Indiana’s governor temporarily halts evictions and foreclosures, but it doesn’t mean you should wait to pay your monthly rent or mortgage.
FOX59 heard from tenants across Indiana who received letters from their landlords about the order, causing further confusion in a time of stress and uncertainty.
“That is pretty confusing to hear you can’t be evicted but also that you need to keep paying,” Prosperity Indiana Director Jessica Love said.
The Governor’s order, which can be viewed here, specifically states that you must continue to pay for your home. However, housing experts say the order is supposed to provide more time for Hoosiers who find themselves in unexpected financial stress due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“A tenant has the right not to be threatened at all during this time and so the minute that happens, it should be reported,” Love said.
Brandon Beeler, an attorney who runs the Housing Law Center at Indiana Legal Services, said his team is already getting calls from tenants who are scared about their housing status and is preparing to hear from more people as April begins.
“This is uncharted territory for all of us,” Beeler said. “I would say the clear cut line is a landlord stating verbally or sending a notice that they intend to file an eviction during the emergency order.”
Beeler said he is advising tenants to pay rent if they have it and to try to be open with landlords if they will need more time.
“We absolutely advise working with your landlord, being as transparent with your landlord as possible about what’s going on and try to get onto some kind of payment plan that works for you and your family,” Beeler said.
If that doesn’t work, you can file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office about threats of eviction at the link here.
Beeler said the city of Indianapolis also planned to open its new tenant hotline next week for people seeking legal advice or representation.
If you don’t think you can pay your rent or mortgage right now, Love said you should reach out for help sooner rather than later. The executive order will stay in place as long as Indiana remains in a state of emergency, which the Governor planned to extend into May, but as soon as it is lifted landlords will be able to file against tenants who owe money.
“Even if you’re a person who has never had to seek out resources in the past, this is a new day and those resources are there for a reason,” Love said.
If you need help, call 211 to be connected to resources. If you have lost your job or source of income due to the pandemic, you may qualify for unemployment under newly relaxed rules. You can file for unemployment with the state at the link here.
You can file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office at the link here.