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'I'm tired of this' | Hoosiers fighting for better tenant laws

In Indiana, there is no law that allows tenants to withhold their rent or make needed repairs and then deduct it from the rent.

INDIANAPOLIS — In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech called "The Other America."

He describes what America was like for two different classes of people. Now, decades later, certain aspects of King's speech still ring true.

"The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 was passed exactly one week after the assassination of Dr. King. Unfortunately, little progress has been made towards creating an equitable housing market, free from discrimination and segregation," said Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.

Many Hoosiers are fighting for better tenant laws.

Tajuana Fleming lives in the Abington Apartments on the west side of Indianapolis.

Fleming invited 13News to her apartment two weeks ago to show us holes in her wall, tape to keep mice out, and a wooden board hammered into her kitchen ceiling to cover a hole she said was created when a pipe in her bathroom began leaking.

"You can see there's another hole forming here. That's where the mold and mildew is," said Fleming.

A way of life Fleming and her family aren't used to living.

"This doesn't make any sense. I'm tired of this," said Fleming.

Fast forward to Monday. That hole in her ceiling is causing more damage. Fleming showed 13News water pouring from her ceiling onto her kitchen floor.

13News reached out to Abington Arms, but could not reach a live person, only a voicemail.

The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana is trying to enact change at the legislative level in housing discrimination and landlord-tenant issues.

"We see devastating concerns when it comes to habitability," said Nelson.

RELATED: How to find your state legislator

Nelson said, in Indiana, there is no law that allows tenants to withhold their rent or make needed repairs and then deduct it from the rent.

"Even when it's the middle of the winter and their pipes are frozen, or they don't have heat. They withhold rent and they could be served with an eviction and be evicted for that," said Nelson.

Something tenants like Fleming want to see change.

"We try to leave and move somewhere else, then we're in breach of contract and we're going to be in court trying to pay off a lease that we are legally bound to," said Fleming.

A problem leaving many tenants with their hands tied.

"In a state like Indiana, with limited tenant protections as compared to other states, this puts families of color at greater risk of exploitation by bad-acting landlords. Each week, there are stories documenting low-income persons and people of color experiencing atrocious living conditions at the hands of inattentive landlords," said Nelson.

Tenants are asking when they'll see change.

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