Advocating with Passion and Purpose

May 2022
Announcing the
Kevin Farrell
Check out a special message above from our Roastee, Kevin Farrell.
You don't want to miss this year's Roast being held on Thursday, September 29, where we will we be roasting Kevin Farrell, partner with Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, at The Crane Bay Event Center in Indianapolis.

Tickets are $300 and includes an open bar, an exceptional dinner, plenty of parking, and much comic relief! For more information about the event and how to buy tickets or sponsor, click HERE!

Funds raised at the Roast will boost vitally needed operating funds for Indy Legal Aid. These funds help us increase the number of under-served individuals and families that we serve in Central Indiana.
May Success Story
In our third installment of Indy Legal Aid’s work with the Tenant Advocacy Program (TAP) that focuses on reducing the number of evictions in Marion County, we are sharing the story of our client, "Brian" who recently met with Emily Browning, TAP attorney at Indy Legal Aid, outside the courtroom on the morning of his eviction hearing. Brian’s eviction case was unique when compared to most of the cases in the TAP program. His landlord had sued to evict him simply because the parties were in “disagreement.” Disagreement is not a legal basis for eviction absent other legally relevant facts.

Typically, our tenant advocate attorneys deal with situations involving non-payment of rent. In this case, though, the source of the “disagreement” between the parties originated from defective plumbing in the unit. The defective plumbing was extensive and was causing Brian’s water bills to be more than $1000, with the meter readings indicating that he was using over 75,000 gallons of water monthly! Before long, Brian was forced to shut off the water because of the plumbing defects and exorbitant bills. Shutting the water off left Brian is the position of having to bathe at a truck stop and utilize bottled water to flush the toilet and cook or clean. Brian exercised his right to report the condition to the Marion County Board of Health. Upon inspection, the Board of Health ordered the landlord to remedy the problem within 24 hours.

Rather than engage in an expensive repair or potential fines from the Board of Health, this landlord sought to evict Brian, and claimed in eviction court that Brian was bullying and/or threatening her. When the Court asked the landlord what behavior by Brian she had experienced as bullying, she reported that Brian had told her he was considering calling the Board of Health or suing her for the damages he suffered (i.e., to seek reimbursement from her for the excessive water bills he had incurred). Both actions Brian discussed with the landlord—reporting problems to the Board of Health and seeking reimbursement for damages—are completely permissible under Indiana law. Next, Brian’s landlord refused to accept his rent without any legal basis for doing so. Her sole purpose of refusing to take his rent money was to try to present a more tenable eviction claim—an action which is not permissible under Indiana landlord/tenant law.

Emily counseled Brian prior to the eviction hearing on how to address the Court to defend his rights. Brian was therefore well-prepared for presenting the issues and argued his case well. He was able to testify to the Court as to the plumbing issue that had caused the disagreement between the parties, the water bills he had incurred, the Health Department’s involvement, the condition of the unit, and the fact that he was current on rent but for the landlord refusing to accept his payment without a legal basis for the refusal.

After hearing evidence from both parties, the Court denied the eviction since there was no legal basis for which to evict the tenant. The judge further ordered the landlord to remedy the plumbing problem within five days. Since both parties were unhappy about remaining in the current rental arrangement with one another, the judge strongly advised them to meet after the hearing and see if they could reach an amicable agreement before the next hearing date of May 31, 2022. Emily again assisted Brian by participating in the negotiations between the parties. The landlord desperately wanted Brian out of the unit due to his repeated complaints about the property.

Although Brian wanted to move away from the hassles and water bills associated with this home, he was saddled with an exorbitant water bill and could not finance a move to a new rental because of the financial upheaval the water bill had caused him. After protracted negotiations, the parties met in the middle with the landlord paying Brian a cash settlement of $2215. The settlement amount served to reimburse Brian for the excess water bill and to return his security deposit to him. In exchange, Brian agreed to vacate the unit within 10 days.

The landlord asserted in the parties’ agreement that she will sell the property “as is” and not rent it to other people.

Importantly, the parties consented in the Agreement to dismiss the case. Thanks to a new law enacted in March of this year, dismissal of the case is now a pivotal step in the eviction process because a dismissal allows a tenant to seek to have the case sealed from public view. Because most landlords routinely check the public record for prior evictions before renting to new tenants, sealing the record of a past eviction is crucial to helping a tenant secure new housing.

After the settlement agreement was signed, Brian thanked Emily repeatedly and told her that he could not have successfully navigated his case or the settlement agreement without her help. The Settlement Agreement was a great outcome for Brian because now he can afford to pay the water bill and will be able to find new housing without an eviction case showing on the court record.
Help Us Grow Campaign
How many phone calls would you say Indy Legal Aid receives in one year from individuals needing our assistance? Just guess – 10,000; 15,000; 20,000? Try an average of 35,000 calls each year. From those 35,000 calls, we are able to help an average of 5,000 people annually.

To help more vulnerable and marginalized individuals, we need your help to fund more attorneys and staff. Thus, our Help Us Grow Campaign.
Your gift will benefit children and their caretakers, the elderly and disabled, and low-income individuals who otherwise would not receive legal assistance. In donating to Indy Legal Aid, your gift will help to promote economic self-sufficiency, preserve dignity, and strengthen our neighborhoods and communities.
Since 1941 Indy Legal Aid has provided immediate, direct civil assistance at no charge to approximately 5,000 low-income individuals each year. In 81 years, that is more than 400,000 Hoosiers whose lives were changed for the better.
Please check out our agency video here that will give you more perspective regarding the issues facing our clients.
We are your local, non-federally funded legal aid organization and we hope you will help us grow our much-needed services that are critical to thousands of our low-income neighbors.

Our clients thank you for your support!
Volunteer Opportunities

Indy Legal Aid has a number of volunteer opportunities for attorneys, students, and the general public. For attorneys, we have pro bono cases, internships for students, and our spring and fall events, along with
light office work.

For more information, click here.

No time to volunteer? Donate now!

We have several ways for you to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable Hoosiers in Central Indiana. Approximately $.90 of every dollar donated to Indianapolis Legal Aid Society is directly used to provide programs and services. For more information, click here.
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"The Indianapolis Legal Aid Society is dedicated to ensuring that qualified low-income persons living in the Central Indiana community have access to quality legal assistance for civil disputes."