Although the federal moratorium on evictions ended on October 3, tenants in the Columbus area who still struggle to pay full rent may still have alternatives to avoid being evicted from their homes.
On November 1, a statewide pre-deportation diversion program will come into effect. Its goal is to enable faster distribution of rent assistance to landlords and tenants, according to the Indiana Supreme Court.
While the 92 counties of Hoosier have been ordered to offer this program by the state’s highest court, Superior Court Judge Bartholomew 2 Jon Rohde says neither tenants nor landlords can be compelled to participate against their will.
“(It’s) available only if both parties to the eviction agree to participate,” the judge said.
Local rules and regulations state that all evictions must be filed with the Bartholomew County 2 Superior Small Claims Court, Rohde said. The vast majority of these cases are handled by Magistrate David A. Nowak.
“We will give the parties the appropriate information about the program and then we will ask if the two parties agree to resolve their dispute through the program,” Justice Rohde said. “If they both agree, a case management plan will be developed to ensure the case is resolved. If they do not agree, the eviction would proceed according to the normal legal eviction procedure.
If the two parties agree to work together on the program, the eviction procedure will be suspended for 90 days. The court will then provide the landlord and tenant with a completed case management order that includes 30-day and 60-day status conferences to track progress, according to the Indiana Supreme Court.
However, a court may lift the stay early if it determines that a party is no longer actively following the case management order or is no longer participating in good faith.
“The implementation of this order will add a step in the eviction process and also offer both parties an alternative way to resolve their case which is not currently available,” said Judge Rohde.
The now-expired federal moratorium on evictions, which ended on October 3, has not ended all evictions. In fact, Bartholomew County recorded 346 evictions from January 1 to October 28 of this year, County Clerk Shari Lentz said.
Since Indiana counties have only recently started classifying evictions as other small claims, it is impossible to compare the current level of tenants ordered to vacate their units with previous years. Lentz said.
However, tenants could still be evicted for intentionally damaging the rental property. Even during the moratorium, tenants still had to meet certain circumstances, such as meeting certain income guidelines, being able to demonstrate that they could not make full payments, and showing that they were still doing their best to pay the most. possible to their owner, according to reports.
According to the Indiana Supreme Court, participation in the pre-eviction diversion program does not prevent a landlord from filing claims against a tenant, including eviction proceedings, for any future event or act.
But if both parties resolve their differences through the program, the court can dismiss the case or the parties can file a diversion agreement, an agreed entry or an agreed judgment.
The Indiana Deportation Task Force is due to provide an updated final report to the Indiana Supreme Court in January.