In this article...

In this article, our Iowa landlord and tenant attorneys will give an overview of the rights and responsibilities of both the property owner and residents. Even though most things remain the same in Iowa as far as landlord/tenant rights are concerned, it is helpful to consider what rights and responsibilities each party has.

Updates To Iowa Landlord/Tenant Law

In this article, our Iowa landlord and tenant attorneys will give an overview of the rights and responsibilities of both the property owner and residents. Even though most things remain the same in Iowa as far as landlord/tenant rights are concerned, it is helpful to consider what rights and responsibilities each party has.

In April 2021, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law that prohibited any Iowa county from forcing landlords to accept Section 8 Housing vouchers. No new county or ordinance could adopt a policy that would not allow landlords to refuse Section 8 Housing vouchers. For cities and counties that already had these laws in place in Iowa City, Marion, and Des Moines, the laws will become void and unenforceable.  

There is currently litigation as of (3/22/22) pending on this law as to whether it violates the Fair Housing Act for individuals who have a disability and receive Section 8 Housing because of that disability. Litigation can quickly change how a law applies, but the law remains in effect as of right now.  

What are Landlord Rights?

Landlords in Iowa are legally allowed to collect rent payments on their due date and start eviction proceedings if there are any breaches in the lease document. They are the party that prepares and usually creates most of the terms for a lease.  

Landlords can set the amount of rent in the lease. They can also set when, what manner, and the penalties for overdue fines. However, landlords in Iowa, If the rent cost is $700 or lower, the landlord cannot charge late fees higher than $60 per month or $12 per day. If the cost of rent is higher than $700, these fees may not be higher than $100 per month or $20 per day.  

What are Landlord Responsibilities?

In Iowa, landlords are responsible for providing habitable living space and making requested repairs in seven days. If they do not, Iowa tenants have the right to take alternative action, provided they give written notice to the landlord. Tenants can make repairs and deduct the cost from the following month's rent.  

Landlords cannot evict tenants who demand their spaces be habitable. The Iowa Code describes specifically the landlord's responsibilities.  

According to Iowa Code 562A.15. "The landlord shall:  

a. Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.  

b. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.  

c. Keep all communal areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition. The landlord shall not be liable for any injury caused by any objects or materials that belong to or have been placed by a tenant in the communal areas of the premises used by the tenant.  

d. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.  

e. Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences, accessible to all tenants, for the central collection and removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal.  

f. Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection."  

Except in an emergency in which the landlord requires immediate access, the landlord must provide 24 hours' notice to their tenant before entering their property at a reasonable time. This period also applies to the landlord showing the premises to potential or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.  

What are Tenant Rights?

Tenants have the right to a habitable living space up to the building code. They have a right to be informed of rent increases in writing. While there often feels like there is little bargaining power between landlord and tenants, it is sometimes possible to negotiate rent increases. For valuable information on breaking a lease in Iowa read our article, Tenant’s Guide to Breaking a Rental Lease in Iowa.

Iowa Tenant's Right to the Security Deposit

Iowa law protects tenants by limiting the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit. In Iowa, the most a landlord can collect as security is two times the monthly rent.  

Landlords are responsible for placing a tenant's deposit in an account in a financial institution, such as a bank or credit union. If the account does earn any interest, the interest belongs to the landlord for the first five years of the tenant's tenancy. After that time, any interest earned would be the tenant's property.  

Deductions From Security Deposit:

Iowa landlords can take deductions from the tenant's deposit to cover:  

  • Damage above normal wear and tear.  
  • The landlord has incurred costs from the tenant refusing to move out of the rental.  

30 Days to Return Deposit:

Landlords in Iowa have 30 days after receiving a tenant's forwarding address to return the security deposit amount owed back to the tenant. One year after moving out, the tenant must supply the landlord with their forwarding address. If the tenant does not provide a forwarding address within a year, the deposit becomes the landlord's property.  

 

What are Tenant Responsibilities?

562A.17. Tenant to maintain dwelling unit  

The tenant shall:  

1. Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.  

2. Keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits.  

3. Dispose of the tenant's dwelling unit of all ashes, rubbish, garbage, and other waste cleanly and safely.  

4. Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits.  

5. use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators.  

6. Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove a part of the premises or knowingly permit a person to do so.  

7. Act in a manner that will not disturb a neighbor's peaceful enjoyment of the premises.  

What are Grounds for Eviction in Iowa?

Landlords can evict tenants from their homes so long as they follow Iowa rules and procedures for doing so.  

  1. Non-Payment of Rent  
  1. The landlord must provide written notice to the tenant that they are in default of payment of rent and provide three days to cure the amount of the defect; otherwise, eviction proceedings may be commenced with the court.  
  1. Non-Compliance with lease  
  1. The landlord must provide the tenant written notice of whatever provision they are not complying with and offer the tenant an opportunity to remedy the issue. The landlord must allow the tenant seven days to comply and state clearly that the eviction process will begin if they do not. Common reasons for this might include violating a no-smoking policy or having a pet.  
  1. No-Lease/Holdover Lease  
  1. If there is no written lease or the tenant stays on after the lease has ended, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant to leave. How much notice is required is determined based on how often rent is paid.  
  1. Week-to-Week – If rent is paid weekly, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Quit.  
  1. Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.  
  1. Longer than Month-to-Month – If the tenancy is for any period greater than month-to-month, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.  
  1. Eviction Process for Material Safety/Health Violation.  
  1. The landlord must provide written notice to the tenant with what health/safety violation they are guilty of and provide seven days to cure the defect or begin the eviction process.  
  1. Eviction Process if Tenant is Engaging in Illegal Activity  
  1. Landlords must provide three day written notice to tenants. Tenants may be evicted if they or their case engage in physically violent behavior to other tenants, possession of an illegal firearm, possession of illegal/controlled substance.  

After the tenant has a notice in whatever required form, the landlord can file to evict with the Iowa court system if they stay past that. The landlord must file a complaint and summons on the individual at least three days before any eviction hearing. The eviction hearing must be held within 8-15 days of filing the complaint. After the hearing, a writ of execution will be granted if the landlord is successful. The tenant will have three days to move out or be forcibly removed.  

In conclusion, both landlords and tenants must honor the lease agreement terms that they sign. In addition, there is a statutory duty for the landlord to provide a habitable place for tenants to live. That place must have working appliances, electricity, plumbing, heating. In return, tenants must keep their premises clean and safe and properly dispose of trash. If something is broken in their unit, they must inform the landlord. Tenants must timely pay rent or face late charges. Tenants have the right to a security deposit if they meet the criteria.  

Landlords must carefully adhere to the notice and filing rules for beginning the process of eviction. If the proper notice or paperwork is not filed, the eviction hearing will continue to cure that default.  

For help figuring out your rights as a tenant or a landlord, contact O'Flaherty Law and one of our experienced Iowa attorneys. You can give us a call at (630)-324-6666 or fill out our confidential contact form today.

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