Iowa Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Iowa landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Iowa Landlord Tenant Act.

IA Landlord Tenant Law

  • Iowa Code Title XIV, Chapter 562A - Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Law

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, Iowa landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating someone as a renter because of his or her ancestry.  Iowa Code § 216.8

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  42 U.S.C. § 3603(b)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

In the absence of a rental agreement, the tenancy shall be month to month by default.  Iowa Code § 562A.9.(5)

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Iowa landlord tenant law Iowa Code § 562A.13 requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property
  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)
  • Utility services and charges (unless tenant is paying the utility company directly)
  • Disclosure IF the property is listed in the comprehensive environmental response compensation and liability information system (maintained by the federal Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Iowa landlord tenant law Iowa Code § 562A.11.(1), your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the landlord or tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the Iowa Landlord and Tenant Act
  • permit the landlord to get a confession of judgment against the tenant
  • make the landlord or tenant pay for the other party's attorney fees (unless ordered by the courts)
  • limit the landlord or tenant's liability when they have failed in their duties

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Security Deposit

Iowa landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to two month's rent as security deposit.  Iowa Code § 562A.12.(1)

Iowa landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in a bank's trust account, savings loan association or credit union insured by a federal government agency. The landlord is not allowed to combine security deposits with personal funds.

The landlord gets to keep any deposit interest earned by a trust account (unless he or she agrees to forgo it in the lease agreement).  Iowa Code § 562A.12.(2)

Deductions and Returns

Iowa landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
   
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Iowa landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties (see Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below)

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.  Iowa Code § 562A.12.(3)(a)(2)

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. If the landlord fails to do so, he or she shall lose all claims to the security deposit.  Iowa Code § 562A.12.(3)(a)

If the tenant doesn't provide the landlord with a mailing address or mailing instructions within one year (of lease termination), the landlord shall keep the full deposit.

If the landlord fails to follow Iowa landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover actual damages PLUS two month's rent PLUS attorney fees.  Iowa Code § 562A.12.(7)

If Property is Sold   

The previous owner is no longer responsible for the security deposit once the following conditions are met:

  1. The previous owner transfers the (remaining) security deposit to the new owner OR returns them to the tenant.
  2. If the deposit is transferred to the new owner, the previous owner has to inform the tenant of the transfer amount AND provide the name and address of the new owner in writing.  Iowa Code § 562A.12.(5)

Once the tenant has been informed of the transfer, he or she can object to the deposit amount (transferred) within 20 days.  Iowa Code § 562A.12.(6)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Des Moines, Iowa IA

Iowa Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.  Iowa Code § 562A.9.(3)

By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the beginning of each month for a month to month tenancy. Rent is to be collected at the rental property and shall be pro-rated daily.

Late Rent

If the rent is $700 or less per month, the landlord can charge a late fee of up to $12 per day, adding up to a maximum of $60 every month.  Iowa Code § 562A.9.(4)

If the rent is more than $700 per month, the landlord can charge a late fee of up to $20 per day, adding up to a maximum of $100 every month.

The landlord can charge the tenant up to $30 for every bounced check.

Raising Rent

According to the Iowa Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.

For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to inform the tenant of a rent increase in writing at least 30 days in advance. For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.  Iowa Code § 562A.13.(5)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Iowa Landlord Tenant Act Iowa Code § 562A.15.(1)(a) requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Iowa landlord tenant law Iowa Code § 562A.17 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Plumbing: Keep plumbing fixtures clean (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails in his or her responsibilities, the tenant has two choices:

1. The tenant can move out (if it affects the tenant's health and safety)

The tenant must give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord seven days to fix it, or else the tenant will move out in seven days. If the problem is fixed within seven days (of the landlord receiving this notice), the tenancy will continue.

2. The tenant can choose to sue the landlord
   
If the landlord violates the lease agreement or Iowa landlord tenant law, the tenant can sue the landlord in court for damages or to obtain a court order (that requires the landlord to do, or stop doing something). If total damages are less than $5,000, the tenant may sue the landlord in small claims court.

If the landlord commits a similar violation within six months, the tenant can terminate the tenancy with a written seven day notice stating the violation date and details. In this case, the termination shall be unconditional and the landlord won't be given the chance to correct his or her violations.  Iowa Code § 562A.21

If Landlord Fails to Provide Essential Services

If the landlord fails to provide an essential service (such as heat, water, electricity, plumbing or sanitation), the tenant has three choices:

1. The tenant can obtain essential service(s) and deduct the cost from rent
   
The tenant has to inform the landlord in writing that he or she intends to obtain essential service(s) and deduct the expenses from next month's rent. The tenant should keep the receipts for all related costs.

2. The tenant can sue the landlord for damages

The tenant can sue the landlord for damages based on how much the property's rental value has diminished.

3. The tenant can recover rent that has been paid

The tenant can recover any (pro-rated) rent paid during the period that the landlord failed to provide an essential service.  Iowa Code § 562A.23

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Iowa landlord tenant law Iowa Code § 562A.19.(1), the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting property for damages
  • Showing property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.  Iowa Code § 562A.19.(3)

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to Iowa landlord tenant law IA Code § 562A.19, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion
  • Court order granting landlord access to the property
  • Tenant has abandoned or surrendered the property
  • Tenant has been away from the property for more than 14 days without notice  Iowa Code § 562A.29.(2)

If Tenant Refuses Landlord's Valid Request to Enter Property

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. Otherwise the landlord can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement

In addition, the landlord may also sue the tenant for actual damages plus attorney fees.  Iowa Code § 562A.35.(1)

If Landlord Enters Property Illegally

The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required) to enter the property. If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that stops the landlord from entering the property illegally or harassing the tenant OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement

In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for one month's rent PLUS attorney fees.  Iowa Code § 562A.35.(2)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Subletting

There are no specific Iowa landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Cedar Rapids, Iowa IA

Cedar Rapids, Iowa IA

Termination of Tenancy

Iowa landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy.
   
For a week to week tenancy, you must give this notice at least 10 days before its termination date.  Iowa Code § 562A.34.(1)

For a month to month tenancy, you have to give this notice at least 30 days in advance.  Iowa Code § 562A.34.(2)

For a periodic tenancy longer than a month (e.g. year to year tenancy), you have to give this notice at least 30 days before the next rental term.

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Landlord failed to maintain property

7 days

Property isn't safe or habitable at beginning of tenancy

5 days

Tenant or dependent is a victim of family violence

See below

Property damage due to fire or disaster

14 days

Tenant or Dependent is a Victim of Family Violence

If the tenant or tenant's dependent might be harmed due to family violence, the landlord cannot stop the tenant seeking law enforcement or emergency assistance.  Iowa Code § 562A.27B

If the tenant or tenant's dependent is a victim of family violence, the landlord cannot use it as a reason to:

  • reject someone as a tenant
  • terminate a tenancy
  • refuse to renew a tenancy

If the tenant wants to be protected by the above laws, he or she must give the landlord a written statement (under oath or affirmation) that the tenant or tenant's dependent is a victim of domestic abuse PLUS a police, court or government record describing the domestic violence suffered by the tenant or tenant's dependent.

Property Damage Due to Fire or Disaster

If the property is badly damaged by fire or natural disaster (such as earthquake or flood), the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent. The tenant must inform the landlord within 14 days of that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy, and the tenancy will be terminated once the tenant moves out.  Iowa Code § 562A.25

After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or natural disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.
   
If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable.

Giving Notice to Quit

The landlord can serve the notice to the tenant in the following ways:

  • Deliver the notice to the tenant in person
  • Deliver the notice to a person staying in the property - This person must be at least 18 years old and the notice has to be signed and dated by him or her.
  • Send the notice by both regular AND certified mail to the tenant's mailing address
  • Post the notice at the property's main entrance door  Iowa Code § 562A.8.(1)(a)

The tenant can serve the notice to the landlord in the following ways:

  • Deliver the notice to the landlord or landlord's agent in person
  • Deliver the notice to the landlord's agent or employee at the landlord's office
  • Send the notice by both regular AND certified mail to the landlord's office or mailing address  Iowa Code § 562A.8.(1)(b)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Eviction

According to Iowa landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

3 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

7 days

Tenant endangered other people on or near property

3 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a three day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out.  Iowa Code § 562.27A.(1)

If the rent is paid within three days, the tenant may stay.

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement in a *significant manner, the landlord can send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy. *Significant manner refers to situations that affects human health and safety.  Iowa Code § 562A.27.(1)

Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by Iowa landlord tenant law) in a significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy.

This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within seven days, the tenant may stay.

However if the tenant violates the tenancy agreement (or fails in his or her duty) in a similar manner within six months, the landlord can evict the tenant by sending him or her a written seven day notice. In this case, the tenant must move out.

Tenant Endangered Others On or Near Property

If the tenant's dangerous action or activity threatens the health and safety of others (within one thousand feet of the property), the landlord can send the tenant a three day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  Iowa Code § 562.27A.(1)

This written notice has to state what is the dangerous activity and that the tenant has the right to challenge this termination in court.

Clear examples of dangerous actions or activities include:

  • Physical assault or threat of physical assault
  • Illegal use or possession of weapon or firearms

Eviction Notice

Also known as "Notice of Termination of Tenancy" or "Notice to Quit", Iowa landlord tenant law requires all eviction notices to contain the following:

  • Reason(s) for termination of tenancy
  • Date and time that tenancy will terminate
  • State that the tenant must move out of the property by the termination date and time
  • State that the landlord may sue to remove the tenant from the property if the tenant doesn't move out by termination date and time

If Iowa landlord tenant law allows the tenant to avoid eviction by correcting the problem(s), the eviction notice must also contain:

  • The corrective action(s) to be taken by for the tenant
  • The date and time by which the correction action(s) must be completed

Unlawful Eviction

According to Iowa landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out or shut off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation) without a court hearing.  Iowa Code § 562A.26

The landlord can only shut off utilities if the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the property.  Iowa Code § 562A.33

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out or shuts off utilities, the tenant can EITHER

  1. regain possession of the property OR
  2. terminate the tenancy agreement

In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for actual damages PLUS (up to) two month's rent PLUS attorney's fees.  Iowa Code § 562A.26

If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all prepaid rents and security deposits to the tenant.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

There are no specific Iowa landlord tenant laws on when the property is considered abandoned by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?

If the tenant did not inform the landlord he or she will be away from the property for a long period of time, the landlord can recover actual damages from the tenant.  Iowa Code § 562A.29.(1)

Once the property is abandoned, the landlord may enter it, clean it, and re-rent it.
   
As long as the landlord makes a proper effort to re-rent the property at a fair rate, the abandoning tenant will be responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends. If a new tenant is moving in before the tenancy ends, then the abandoning tenant can stop paying rent once the new tenant moves in.  Iowa Code § 562A.29.(3)

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

There are no specific Iowa landlord tenant laws on how to deal with the tenant's abandoned belongings.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Resources

Iowa Landlord Tenant Law: Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Law

Iowa Landlord Tenant Handbook: Iowa Landlord Tenant Handbook

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Like and Share ☺