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Senate committee guts bill that would've helped renters deal with negligent landlords

Indiana Democratic Senator Fady Qaddoura speaks on the floor of the Indiana Senate. Qaddoura is a Palestinian-American, with dark hair and beard, wearing a suit.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) authored legislation that would've provided renters with more options to deal with negligent landlords.

A bill to give Indiana renters more options to deal with negligent landlords was gutted by a Senate committee Wednesday.

The measure now takes the entire issue to a summer study committee.

Among other things, the legislation, SB 202, would’ve created a rent escrow system. If landlords aren’t making necessary repairs to essential services – like electricity, heat and water – the renter could go to court and pay their rent to a third party. That would withhold the rent from the landlord until repairs are made.

The bill’s author, Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis), said he’s frustrated that only a study committee on the issue can move forward this session.

“But I understand the legislative process," Qaddoura said. "I understand that we have to convince our colleagues and go through the motions.”

READ MORE: Housing advocates propose policy solutions to help Hoosier renters

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Committee chair Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) said she didn’t want to kill the bill entirely.

“So, I thought putting it in a summer study would give us an opportunity to really flesh out these issues and get some relief for these people, who desperately need it,” Brown said.

Even if the bill passes, it’s not guaranteed to become a study committee topic. That decision is made by the four legislative caucus leaders after session ends.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.