OP ED: Sen. Messmer on Protecting Property Owners

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By State Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper)

Indiana’s cities are growing each year, but we still have thousands of acres of nature to explore in our state. This July during Parks and Recreation Month, Hoosiers can experience the natural beauty of Indiana by taking advantage of the over 3,600 miles of public trails and 25 state parks we have available.

 While these trails and parks are open to the public, many Hoosiers own property near them, and it is not uncommon for visitors to pass through private property to access them.

 While some property owners may be happy to allow community members to walk through their property to access a public trail or park, they would be held liable if anyone was injured on their property.

To protect landowners in this situation, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1115 this session. Under this law, if an individual is injured while using private property to access a trail, greenway, park or similar area, the landowner is not held accountable for the injury.

 Landowners can now have peace of mind when their property is used to access the beautiful parks and trails we have in Indiana.

This session, legislators also made it a priority to find a balance between individual property owners’ rights and government oversight when it comes to online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

 House Enrolled Act 1035, which I sponsored, guarantees homeowners the ability to rent out their primary residence.

 HEA 1035 prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances that ban homeowners from using their primary residence as a short-term rental, but allows local governments to regulate the use of non-owner-occupied residential property for short-term rentals by requiring a special exception, special use or zoning variance.

 These short-term rental businesses are booming, helping drive Indiana’s tourism economy forward.

 This law will help protect private property owners’ rights when they choose to rent out their homes to others.

 Both laws went into effect July 1.