Attorney General Todd Rokita and his team have filed a lawsuit against New York real estate financier ROCO Chetrit Entities LLC for allegedly allowing Hickory Ridge Apartments in Merrillville, Indiana, to fall into such disrepair that elderly and vulnerable tenants were unlawfully forced out of their homes.

“Tenant abuse is unacceptable, and my office fights hard to hold landlords accountable — particularly greedy, out-of-state actors who clearly don’t respect the rent being paid by hardworking Hoosiers,” Attorney General Rokita said. “No one who is spending their money for a place to live should be disregarded or disrespected like these elderly and vulnerable tenants in Merrillville.”

This case is just the latest instance in which Attorney General Rokita has fought for tenants’ rights and well-being. Recently, the office filed a civil complaint against the owners of two alleged abandoned apartment complexes in Anderson. Additionally, Attorney General Rokita’s Homeowner Protection team achieved a settlement on behalf of tenants at the Willow Brook Gardens Apartments in Indianapolis for their poor treatment of renters.

The ROCO lawsuit alleges that companies related to the real estate financiers of the Chetrit Group defaulted on a nearly half-billion dollar loan backed by Freddie Mac that financed a multitude of multifamily properties across the country, including several properties in Indiana containing nearly 1,500 units.

The New York real estate financier allegedly failed to properly fund necessary maintenance and repairs from 2019 to 2023 at Hickory Ridge Apartments, resulting in multiple incidents of flooding, sewage backups into occupied units, and unsafe and illegal fire code violations. At various times, the properties also allegedly lacked the required rental, business and fire alarm permits mandated by the City of Merrillville.

Due to these alleged violations, multiple renters faced chaotic events that displaced them, including a forced evacuation in June 2023.

“It has long been a bedrock of Indiana law that landlords at the very least owe their tenants the most basic standards of habitability, including maintaining major systems and ensuring that the properties that they lease are fit for human habitation,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Our state welcomes investments from anyone who cares enough to meet these basic obligations, but we will not tolerate those who grind their heels on the poor and play a game of Monopoly with the lives of hard-working Hoosiers.”

The lawsuit demands a jury trial, costs of prosecution and other damages against the defendants for multiple violations of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and Home Loan Practices Act.

Attorney General Rokita thanked his office’s Homeowner Protection Unit for its work on this case, including Section Chief Chase Haller, Assistant Section Chief Timothy Weber, Deputy Attorney General Rebekah Hammond and Investigator Molly Jefford.

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.

Hoosiers are encouraged to contact the Office of the Indiana Attorney General about any suspected scams or scam attempts. Consumers can file a complaint by visiting or calling 1-800-382-5516.