Attorney General Todd Rokita secured a measure of justice for a survivor of domestic abuse when he obtained a landlord’s commitment to pay the survivor $12,000 and to improve policies addressing domestic violence among tenants.
“Our team works to combat domestic violence at every opportunity,” Attorney General Rokita said. “We aim to involve all Hoosiers in efforts to assist survivors and bring perpetrators to justice. Landlords, for their part, certainly need to be part of the solution.”
An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Unit found that a survivor first contacted her leasing office for assistance in the summer of 2022 after being physically abused by her co-tenant. Allegedly, employees of TRI-TWG Lakewood Holdings LLC provided erroneous information about her ability to terminate her lease or exclude the abuser from the leased unit.
The survivor alleged that she was told she would need to pay an early termination fee or qualify for an apartment using her own income for them to be able to assist her. As a result of this misinformation, the survivor experienced additional alleged abuse over the course of several more months. Timing in these circumstances can be critical to allow for physical separation from alleged perpetrators.
“A lack of training and understanding of the law protecting victims of domestic violence put this woman and her children in serious danger,” Attorney General Rokita said. “She eventually got her lease terminated with the assistance of an attorney from Indiana Legal Services, but it should never have taken as long as it did.”
This episode also exposes an inadequacy in current state law — which fails to require landlords to provide any information to tenants who report being victims of domestic violence or abuse. Instead, the law requires the tenants to know about the proper paperwork they must file in order to get a lease terminated on the basis of domestic abuse.
“Our office appreciates the steps this landlord has taken to ensure this never happens again,” Attorney General Rokita said. “A good next step might be for the Indiana General Assembly to strengthen Indiana laws protecting domestic abuse victims living in rental properties.”
The current statute contains no specific Attorney General authority for enforcement and no requirement that a landlord provide any information to a tenant about their rights when a tenant facing abuse reports a need to terminate their lease or exclude an abuser from the unit.
TRI-TWG Lakewood Holdings LLC has entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) requiring them to:
- Pay restitution to the consumer totaling $12,000;
- Make affirmative changes to policies and procedures relating to the proper handling of domestic violence incidents involving their tenants;
- Conduct at least two hours of continuing education training for consumer-facing leasing staff on the topic of domestic violence, including the protections afforded to victims of certain crimes as laid out in Ind. Code § 32-1-9; and
- Remit $2,500.00 to reimburse the Homeowner Protection Unit for costs of the investigation.
The mission of the Homeowner Protection Unit 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.