Following an investigation by his team, Attorney General Todd Rokita has obtained legal commitments from the Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) to rectify miserable living conditions at the Lugar Tower Apartments and to extend new protections to tenants.
The problems stem from the IHA’s alleged mismanagement of the 17-story, 250-unit apartment building in Downtown Indianapolis, which serves elderly and disabled residents.
“Just like private companies, public agencies must meet their obligations to Hoosiers,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Our team works tirelessly to ensure our laws are followed. This is one more instance in which we were honored to serve that mission.”
At least 40 tenants filed complaints earlier this year which detailed deteriorating conditions at the property. A lack of building security at the property has attracted criminal activity, including assaults and robberies. Squatters have inhabited vacant units and common areas of the property.
The building at times has also lacked hot water service, working elevators and even secure locking devices on residents’ doors.
Other problems have included fecal matter in common stairwells and rampant pest infestations.
Attorney General Rokita’s Homeowner Protection Unit (HPU) responded to tenants’ complaints — communicating with IHA, inspecting the building, interviewing residents and engaging with other stakeholders to ensure issues were remedied.
The IHA agreed to address the issues as part of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) that Attorney General Rokita’s office filed with the Marion County Superior Court.
Attorney General Rokita commended IHA Chief Executive Officer Marcia Lewis for taking the residents’ concerns seriously and working constructively with his team to implement solutions.
Already, crews have cleaned common areas, fixed doors and locks, installed new water heaters and repaired elevators. Management also has increased on-site security.
“What happened at Lugar Tower Apartments was the culmination of years of neglect and mismanagement,” Attorney General Rokita said. “That should anger anyone who cares about fairness and justice. Subsidized housing does not mean substandard housing. Our office will not hesitate to hold any landlord accountable that seeks to deny tenants equal protection of our laws.”
The AVC requires IHA to agree to a two-year compliance period in which they must maintain a licensed broker company as property manager of the building, maintain a reasonable security presence, allow access for future inspections and submit quarterly compliance reports to the Attorney General.
The AVC also includes an agreement that IHA will follow the Indiana landlord tenant statutes and local health and housing codes.
Attorney General Rokita thanked his HPU team for their work in this matter — including Investigator Molly Jefford; Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Section Chief Timothy Weber; and Deputy Attorney General and Section Chief Chase Haller.
The HPU’s mission is to protect the rights of all individuals involved in the housing market — including tenants, homeowners and aspiring homeowners — by investigating and redressing deceptive acts in connection with mortgage lending and violations of relevant state and federal laws.