Indiana Supreme Court unveils eviction diversion program

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The Indiana Supreme Court has established a statewide pre-eviction diversion program, mandating that trial courts offer the service to landlords and tenants when a petition for eviction is filed.

Starting Nov. 1, state courts will be required to take certain steps whenever any residential eviction action is filed for nonpayment of rent. The order issued Friday in In the Matter of the Indiana Eviction Task Force, 21S-MS-422, holds that the courts shall advise the parties of the availability of the diversion resources and ask if they are interested in pursuing emergency rental assistance funds or participating in a settlement conference.

If the parties agree to seek a resolution through the diversion program, the court shall stay the eviction proceedings for 90 days and shall make all court records related to the eviction confidential. In addition, the court will provide a completed case management order to the parties and hold status conferences every 30 days.

For the landlords and tenants who are able to settle their disputes through the diversion program, the court can dismiss the case or the parties can file a diversion agreement, agreed entry or agreed judgment.

The order is based on findings and recommendations of the Indiana Eviction Task Force. Chaired by Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Robert Altice, the group was charged with gathering information from various stakeholders in the eviction process and making a final report no later than Jan. 17, 2022.

In its interim report released Oct. 18, the task force specifically advised that the courts should provide information about rental assistance and the Landlord and Tenant Settlement Conference Program. It also recommended that local communities collaborate with legal professionals to increase access to legal services for unrepresented landlords and tenants, and that the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority should build on collaborative efforts so those in need can be connected with resources.

The task force reported that from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2021, 36,018 eviction cases had been filed in Indiana.

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