Private property protection matters

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 340 on private property protection matters.  The bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Wolkins and does the following:

  • Requires the summons accompanying a complaint for condemnation to include language regarding the defendants’ right to object to the condemnation within 30 days from the date notice is served.
  • Requires a court to award reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to a defendant whose objection to a complaint for condemnation is sustained.
  • Requires a municipality to provide notice by mail to affected owners, both residents and nonresidents of the municipality, of a condemnation.
  • Permits an affected owner to file an objection that a municipality does not have the right to exercise the power of eminent domain for the use sought.
  • Amends the time for a remonstrance hearing for a municipal condemnation and the defendant’s right to judicial review of the decision made at the hearing to 30 days. (Current law requires a remonstrance hearing to be set later than 10 days after notice and the defendant to appeal the decision within 20 days.)
  • Provides parties the right to appeal a court’s judgment in the judicial review of a municipal condemnation.
  • Revises the statute allowing a municipality to condemn property for economic development to require a 3/4 affirmative vote of the municipality’s legislative body to exercise the power of eminent domain. (Current law requires a 2/3 affirmative vote of the municipality’s legislative body.)
  • Allows a property owner to challenge a condemnation for economic development purposes by providing clear and convincing evidence that the owner’s parcel is not necessary for the project.

The committee amended the bill as follows:

  • Requires a conveyance, a mortgage, or an instrument of writing to be recorded to be: (1) acknowledged by the grantor; and (2) proven before certain specified individuals; in certain instances.
  • Exempts a condemnation action brought by a public utility or by a pipeline company from the bill’s provisions requiring a court to award a defendant in a condemnation action the defendant’s reasonable costs and attorney’s fees if the defendant’s objections to the proceedings are sustained in the proceedings or upon appeal.
  • Caps the amount of attorney’s fees a court may award if an objection to a condemnation is sustained at $25,000.
  • Removes the right of a property owner to appeal or seek judicial review of a condemnation by a municipality on the grounds that the municipality may not exercise the power of eminent domain for the use sought.
  • Provides that a legislative body of a municipality may create an ordinance establishing a waiting period for removal of certain abandoned vehicles.
  • Prohibits a local unit from regulating certain aspects of a landlord-tenant relationship with respect to privately owned real property located in the unit unless the regulation is authorized by the general assembly.
  • Prohibits a landlord from taking certain retaliatory actions in response to a tenant’s engaging in one or more enumerated protected activities. Provides that if a landlord brings an eviction action or an action for possession of the rental premises, the tenant may assert as a defense that: (1) the landlord’s suit constitutes a retaliatory act; or (2) the landlord has engaged in one or more other retaliatory acts.
  • Provides that the burden for proving the landlord’s retaliatory intent is on the tenant.
  • Prohibits a local unit from adopting or enforcing any ordinance or regulation concerning retaliatory acts by landlords.

The committee heard supporting testimony from the Clarksville Town Attorney, the Indiana Affordable Housing Coalition, the Indiana Builders Association, and Family Promise of Indianapolis.  Representatives from the City of Indianapolis testified against the amendments.  The amended bill passed 9-2.

Read the bill at:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/bills/senate/340