Iowa Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

Published by ezLandlordForms on

iowa lease agreementHow 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?
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.


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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