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Iowa Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

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Iowa Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

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Iowa Landlord Tenant Law: FAQs

In this section, we have covered all the questions related to “Iowa landlord-tenant law“.

How much can I charge for rent?
Iowa doesn’t limit the amount of rent a landlord is permitted to charge. Therefore a landlord may charge whatever he feels desirable. Additionally, the state of Iowa has not introduced rent control or stabilization.

May I charge an application fee, late rent charge or a returned payment fee and are there limits to these fees?
Reasonable cost should always be kept in mind when initiating any charges. The maximum allowed by law in Iowa for a late charge is $40 a month and no more that $10 per day. However, the maximum fee that may be charged for a dishonored payment is $30, provided it is specified within the lease or posted conspicuously. Iowa Code § 554.3512

Are there any regulations regarding the security deposit?
Landlords may not collect a security deposit that is greater than 2 month’s rent. All security deposits shall be held in a bank or savings and loan association, or credit union which is insured by an agency of the federal government. Security deposits must not commingle with the personal funds of the landlord. Any interest earned on a security deposit during the first 5 years of a tenancy shall be the property of the landlord.

What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
At times landlords may try claiming deductions for items that are often characterized by the court (when a tenant sues for the return of a security deposit) as normal wear and tear. This situation may be prevented by realistically evaluating each deduction, providing proof of damage as well as including re-pair receipts and pictures.

After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send their security deposit back?
According to Iowa landlord-tenant law, within 30 days from the termination of tenancy and receipt of the tenant’s forwarding mailing address, the landlord shall either return the entire security deposit to the tenant or a written statement showing the specific reason for withholding the security deposit or any portion of it. It is wise to keep track and have receipts of all costs such as labor and material.

What happens at the end of a Iowa lease or how much notice must I give a tenant to move?
A fixed term lease is a rental agreement that contains a beginning and ending date. In this circumstance, the lease agreement simply ends on the date specified within the contract unless the lease specifies otherwise. A periodic lease is a lease that continues from period to period (i.e. month to month). Periodic leases continue until either a landlord or tenant gives notice of at least 30 days. If no lease is used, it is considered a verbal lease agreement; the rules for a periodic lease would then apply.

My tenant was supposed to be out of the apartment and he is still there. What can I do?
If a tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration of the rental agreement or its termination, the landlord may bring an action for possession. In order to begin the process, the landlord will give the tenant a seven day eviction notice and then follow the court rules for eviction.

My tenant wants to pay only part of the rent he owes? I have already started eviction proceedings; should I accept the partial payment?
Accepting payment whether full or partial, may waive the landlord’s right to proceed and evict the tenant unless a non-waiver agreement is signed. This may be complicated and it may be wise to contact an attorney.

Can I force my tenant to pay for attorney fees?
In Iowa attorney fees and court costs may be recovered if specified within the lease agreement and awarded by a judge.

How long does the eviction process take?
As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, with no complications, the eviction process usually takes approximately 4-5 weeks.

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease.

Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
The landlord shall give the tenant at least 24 hours notice of intent to enter the premises, except in case of emergency or if it’s impracticable to do so.

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter’s insurance?
Landlords may require tenants to obtain rental insurance.

Landlord’s Responsibilities in Iowa

According to Iowa landlord-tenant law, landlords are responsible for maintaining a safe and habitable property, including making necessary repairs, providing working utilities and appliances, and complying with state and local building and housing codes. Landlords must also disclose any known defects or hazards on the property. 

Landlords must not discriminate against tenants based on factors such as race, religion, or national origin. Landlords must also give proper notice before entering the tenant’s unit and must return the security deposit within a certain time frame after the tenant moves out.

Landlord’s Rights in Iowa

As per the Iowa landlord-tenant law, landlords have the right to:

  • Collect rent from tenants
  • Enter the rental property for maintenance or inspections with proper notice
  • Terminate a lease for non-payment of rent or violation of lease terms
  • Pursue legal action for damages or unpaid rent
  • Maintain the property to meet health and safety standards
  • Show the rental property to prospective tenants during the last month of the lease.

However, landlords must also follow state and local laws regarding tenant rights, such as providing a habitable living space and not discriminating against tenants based on protected characteristics.

Tenant’s Responsibilities in Iowa

In Iowa, tenants have several responsibilities, including:

  • Paying rent on time: Tenants are responsible for paying rent on the date specified in the lease agreement. If rent is not paid on time, landlords may charge late fees and/or begin the eviction process.
  • Maintaining the property: Tenants are responsible for keeping their living space in a clean and orderly condition and not causing damage to the property. They are also responsible for reporting any repairs or maintenance issues to the landlord in a timely manner.
  • Complying with building and housing codes: Tenants are responsible for complying with all local building and housing codes, such as not overcrowding the property and not using the property for illegal activities.
  • Following the lease agreement: Tenants are responsible for following the terms of the lease agreement, including any rules and regulations set by the landlord.
  • Not disturbing other tenants: Tenants are responsible for not disturbing other tenants with excessive noise or other nuisances.
  • Notifying the landlord of intent to move out: Tenants are responsible for providing written notice to the landlord of their intent to vacate the property before the end of the lease term, typically 30 days notice.

It is also important to note that tenants are responsible for not subletting the rental unit without the landlord’s permission and also not to use the rental unit for any illegal activities

In summary, tenants in Iowa are responsible for paying rent on time, maintaining the property, complying with building and housing codes, following the lease agreement, not disturbing other tenants, notifying the landlord of their intent to move out, and not subletting or using the rental unit for illegal activities.

Tenant’s Rights in Iowa

In Iowa, tenants have the right to a safe and habitable living space. Landlords are required to make necessary repairs in a timely manner and to keep the common areas of the property in a safe and clean condition. Tenants also have the right to privacy and to quiet enjoyment of their living space, meaning that landlords cannot enter the property without proper notice and reason.

Tenants also have the right to challenge any illegal rent increases or eviction notices. If a landlord attempts to evict a tenant without a valid reason or without going through the proper legal process, the tenant has the right to fight the eviction in court.

Tenants also have the right to withhold rent if the landlord fails to maintain the property or make necessary repairs. However, before withholding rent, tenants must provide written notice to the landlord, specifying the issues and giving the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs.

Tenants also have the right to terminate the lease early if the landlord violates any of their obligations under the lease or if the landlord’s failure to maintain the property makes it uninhabitable.

It is also important to note that in Iowa, landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

In summary, tenants in Iowa have the right to safe and habitable living space, privacy, and quiet enjoyment, the right to challenge illegal rent increases or eviction notices, the right to withhold rent for failure to maintain the property, the right to terminate the lease early for landlord’s failure to maintain the property and the right to be protected from discrimination based on certain protected classes.

Want more information?  View our additional Iowa rental resources for landlords and property managers, and ask legal and other questions in our Landlord Forum.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

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