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Kevin O'Flaherty

Have you ever come home to find a 3-day notice posted on your door? Do not worry. In this article we discuss all there is to know about the 3-day notice in Iowa and how to respond, including:

  • 3-Day Notice
  • Eviction Process in Iowa
  • General Defenses to Eviction in Iowa
  • Defenses to Failure to Pay Rent in Iowa

There are various reasons you may have received notice from your landlord. The most common reasons include failure to pay rent or violation of the rental agreement. For information about another type of notice called “Clear & Present Danger” notice, check out our article Clear and Present Danger Evictions in Iowa. The reason for the eviction determines the type of notice required. Eviction for violation of the rental agreement requires seven-day notice, giving you an opportunity to cure the lease violation. Eviction for failure to pay rent, however, does not require as much notice.

3-Day Notice to Quit (Non-payment)

If your landlord is trying to evict you for failure to pay rent, they must provide you with a three-day notice. This notice may be called a “Notice to Quit” or a “Notice of Nonpayment of Rent”, but whatever terminology used, it indicates that you did not pay rent on the day that it was due. The notice must state that you have three days to pay rent or the rental lease will terminate. The landlord may provide you with this notice as soon as the rent becomes late, meaning the day after the rent was due. The three days begins to run the day after you receive the notice. For example, if you received notice dated April 2 on April 2, April 3 is Day 1, and you have until close of business on April 5 to pay up or move out. Your landlord must provide you with a new notice every time rent is not paid.

Eviction Process in Iowa

Regardless of the grounds for eviction, once the appropriate notice is given and the timeframe has passed without cure, your landlord must go to court to have you evicted. If the issue has been cured, meaning you paid any past due rent if eviction was due to failure to pay rent, or cured the violation if eviction is due to violation of the leasing agreement, the landlord has no recourse and you are safe. If the issue has not been cured, the landlord’s next step is to file a petition with the court to begin what is called a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit, also known as an eviction. The case will then be set for a hearing before a judge. If you wish to challenge the eviction, you must appear at the hearing. If not, the judge will enter a judgement against you and validate the eviction. If both parties appear at the hearing, the judge will hear both sides and make a determination.

General Defenses to Evictions in Iowa

Although your landlord has a right to begin the eviction process after your failure to pay rent or violation of your rental contract, you may still have some defenses available to protect you as a tenant.

Self-Help Eviction: The manner in which your landlord tries to evict you is important. If your landlord attempts to remove you from the property through means other than the court system, such as changing the locks or shutting off the utilities, you may be able to sue the landlord for damages and regain possession of the property. This is called a “self-help” eviction, and is prohibited in Iowa.

Improper Eviction: You may also be able to evade eviction if your landlord does not properly evict you. Landlords must be careful to follow all the rules set forth in the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act when attempting to evict a tenant. If the landlord does not follow proper procedures, the eviction could be invalid and you may be able to get the suit dismissed. This will not protect you from the landlord starting over and properly evicting you, but it may at the very least buy you some time. For more, check out Iowa Landlord Obligations and Iowa Landlord Tenant Laws Explained.

Defenses to Failure to Pay Rent in Iowa

Once you receive a three-day notice to vacate for failure to pay rent, you have three days to pay rent in full or the lease will terminate. This means that you can avoid eviction by paying any past due rent in full. It is advisable to ask your landlord for a time-stamped receipt once you pay, for proof that you paid on time. If your landlord decides to go to court anyway, you can use timely payment as a defense to remain in possession of the property.

In Iowa, landlords are also required to maintain rental properties according to minimum standards set forth in the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This requires that rental properties be clean, habitable and major appliances in good working order at a minimum. If your landlord fails to properly maintain your rental unit, you have several options. After notifying the landlord and giving them seven days to make the necessary repairs, you may either:

  1. Pay for the missing essential service (water, heat, etc.) or repair on your own and deduct the cost from rent;
  2. Sue the landlord for damages based on the diminished value of the unit; or
  3. Get a refund of rent paid.

To learn more about landlord repairs, visit How Do I Get My Landlord To Fix My Residence in Iowa?. If your landlord attempts to evict you based on failure to pay rent or paying reduced rent, you may use proof of the landlord’s failure to properly maintain the rental property as a defense against the eviction.

It is important to consider the effects of an eviction on your track record. If you are unsuccessful in court, you may have to pay your landlord’s attorney and court fees. You also risk a negative credit rating and being rejected for future housing. The best option is often to work out a deal with your landlord that avoids the eviction process.

If you have questions about your options as a tenant or your landlord has already begun a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit against you, you may want to consider contacting one of the experienced attorneys at O’Flaherty Law today. Call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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