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House advances bill aimed at sealing eviction filings from tenant records in some instances

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Andrew Bradley with Prosperity Indiana, a tenant advocacy group, testifies in favor of the bill

A House committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would allow tenants to seal eviction filings against them in some instances.

Tenant advocates have long argued that eviction filings can serve as a permanent “scarlet E” that harms a renter's chances of getting housing in the future - even if an eviction filing against them is ultimately thrown out.

Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Peru) introduced the legislation.

“Upwards of 40% of eviction filings do not result in an eviction or a judgment. So there is a huge number of cases that are filed that are not put all the way through the process. That would allow the folks who have been involved in those actions to get records sealed and be able to find housing in the future,” he said.

The bill received support from both tenant advocates and some associations representing property owners.

The bill stipulates that participation in state eviction diversion programs be kept “voluntary”, and also allows landlords to initiate rental assistance applications on behalf of their tenants.

Brain Spaulding is vice president of Government Affairs for the Indiana Apartment Association, which supports the legislation.

“Property owners are not in the housing industry to evict,” he said. “Eviction is costly and a tiresome process, one that is used by our members as a last resort.”

The bill now heads to the full House.