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Rights of Neighboring Homeowners Regarding Vacant and Abandoned Property

Vacant and abandoned properties have long been an issue in cities and towns across the State of Indiana, and often trigger a decline in value for neighboring properties and surrounding districts.  A little known Indiana statute provides property owners a few measures to help protect their homes and neighborhoods from blight.  While limited in scope, certain actions are permitted to ease the burden caused by abandoned properties.

Under Indiana Code I.C. 34-30-26-1 et.seq., an individual who is not the owner of a particular property, and who suspects that the property may be vacant or abandoned, may enter upon the property to visually inspect and determine whether it is vacant or abandoned.  Entrance into a structure is strictly prohibited, however.

If the property is vacant or abandoned, the statute authorizes the individual to remove trash and debris from the grounds, secure the property, remove graffiti, as well as landscape, maintain and mow the grounds.  Only governmental code enforcement officials, however, have the authority to inspect structures and make additional demands on the property owner.

Individuals acting within the perimeters above are protected from civil liability for any act or omission related to coming onto the property, except for willful misconduct or gross negligence.  Further, individuals are immune from any claim of criminal or civil trespass.

City and county governments may have additional ordinances governing vacant or abandoned real estate, so it is important to understand those restrictions prior to entering onto someone else’s property.

For additional information about this or any related legal matter, please contact attorney Shannon Frank at sfrank@KDDK.com or (812) 423-3183, or contact any member of the KDDK Real Estate Law Practice Team.

About the Author

Shannon S. Frank, Indiana Attorney

Shannon S. Frank

Shannon S. Frank, a Partner at Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP (KDDK), in Evansville, Indiana, has more than 25 years’ experience in the practice of business law, construction law, real estate law, estate planning and probate administration, and health care law. Shannon takes pride in giving exceptional service to her clients, recognizing that relationships with clients play a significant and essential role in providing tailored and comprehensive legal advice.