Renter forced to pay more halfway through lease


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Anika Nelson says she’s lived at the Trails at Lakeside apartment complex since September of 2020. However, in a few months, she says she will be moving out after her family received a letter in the mail stating all tenants will have to pay additional $55 internet fee regardless of if they already had their own set up.

She says the extra fee is a violation of the contract she signed. I-Team-8 has found that this is a common issue across the state.

“(For some families here,) trying to you make it paycheck to paycheck — and then you want to add on another bill,” says Nelson. “Why force us to do something when it’s not a part of our current lease?” 

Nelson says her attorney sent a letter to the complex explaining what they believe is a breach of contract on the landlord’s part. The letter also states: “The Nelsons demand that you honor your lease as written and not charge them an additional $55 per month for internet services that they do not want/need.”

Nelson says the complex has not written back yet.

“The contract itself cannot be amended without both parties’ agreement,” said Brandon Beeler, who is the Housing Law Center director at Indiana Legal Services.

Beeler says his office is seeing a common theme of not only landlords raising rent or charges, but landlords attempting to do so midway through a current lease without giving a tenant the option to opt out.

Beeler says landlords are within their rights to raise prices when a lease is being renewed, typically giving 30 days for a tenant to move out or sign a new contract. He says it’s imperative for tenants in these types of situations to keep a written record of all correspondence with landlords.

“It seems that some landlords are using this as a scheme to make money off vulnerable tenants during a pandemic,” says Beeler.

For Nelson, she says her family is already looking for a new place to live.

“I’ll do what I have to do — what’s necessary,” said Nelson. “Why should I have to stay if you’re not gonna honor the contract?”

I-Team 8’s Jasmine Minor briefly spoke to a property manager at the Trails of Lakeside complex. The manager said they would “not be providing any statement” and to contact their lawyer. Minor then asked the manager how to contact their lawyer and the manager then ended the call.

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