Indiana landlord seeks Supreme Court’s help in land dispute

A northwestern Indiana landlord wants the U.S. Supreme Court to wade into his dispute with the city of Hammond and overturn a city order directing him to remove five apartments that he’s leased to tenants in what was once a single-family home.

Jose Andrade, who argues that Hammond’s order violates his constitutional rights, has filed a petition for review with the nation’s highest court, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

He contends Hammond officials cannot require the home, which was built in 1927 and subsequently converted to apartments, to adhere to the city’s building code since it only was adopted in 1981.

“The enforcement of said code as it is being applied to a dwelling that was built prior to the adoption of said code represents an enforcement of an ex post facto law,” Andrade said. “Such enforcement is deemed illegal and improper, and therefore violates petitioner’s Fifth and 14th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution regarding property and due process.”

Andrade also asserts it’s unfair that the city allows other homes in the neighborhood to contain two apartments.

The city of Hammond does not plan on responding to Andrade’s request for review, unless explicitly directed to by the Supreme Court, according to the city’s attorneys.

In March, the Indiana Supreme Court declined to grant Andrade’s transfer request, thus leaving intact rulings from the Indiana Court of Appeals and Lake Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins that affirmed the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety’s directive for Andrade to remove the apartments.

Court records show the Hammond board’s order followed a 2016 city inspection of the home that found 12 structural problems, fire dangers and maintenance issues, subsequently rendering the home an unsafe structure under Indiana’s Unsafe Building Law.

The nine Supreme Court justices are slated to consider Andrade’s petition Oct. 1 at a conference meeting, the court’s docket indicates. At least four of the justices must agree to accept the case, otherwise the city’s order will remain.

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