State Rules and Regulations for Iowa Rental Properties and Landlords

In Iowa, whenever there is either a written or oral contract to exchange rent for inhabiting an owned property, a rental agreement exists. Pursuant to Iowa law (Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Law Ch. 562A) this relationship comes with certain rights and responsibilities for the landlord such as the right to collect rent in a timely manner and process eviction pending a lease violation.

Tenants also have certain rights, such as the right to habitable property, the right to request repairs, the right to due process before an eviction and more.

Iowa Official Rules and Regulations

Iowa Security Deposit  Law

  • Security Deposit Maximum – Pursuant to 562A.12.1, a landlord cannot demand or receive more than two months rent as a security deposit.
  • Security Deposit Interest: According to 562A.12.2, security deposits can be held in an interest bearing savings or trust account and that any interest earned from said account for the first five years of tenancy shall remain the property of the landlord.
  • Nonrefundable Fees: No statute given
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Pursuant to 562A12.2, all monies collected as security deposits must be kept in a bank or trust account that is separate from the landlord’s personal accounts.
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute is available, other than 562A.12.1. In most cases, pet deposits are included within the security deposit, but when they are not, the total of the security and pet deposits can not exceed a total of two months’ actual rent.
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: The landlord has 30 days after termination of the lease to return a tenant’s security deposit, pursuant to 562A.12.3. If the landlord is found to be within violation, the tenant can file suit against them in small claims court and recover both punitive and actual damages.
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: If any portion of the security deposit is kept by the landlord a detailed, written description must be provided to the tenant, pursuant to 562A.12.3. When the landlord retains any portion, no matter how small, a complete listing of any damages, cleaning fees, repairs and other expenses must be presented to the tenant along with the remainder of their security deposit. Failure to do so is a violation of state code 562A.12.3 and can result in fines and legal action on behalf of the tenant.
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute is given other than what is provided in 562A.12.2. Accurate book keeping is required to record a record of each tenant’s deposit as well as any interest earned during the first five years. After the 5 year period ends, any interest earned on a tenants’ deposit is held and returned to them at the time the lease is terminated.
  • Receipt of Deposit: No statute is given
  • Failure to Comply: According to 562A.12.7, the landlords failure to return a tenant’s security deposit within the 30 day time period, may result in the tenant being awarded no more than two hundred dollars. Other actual damages may also be awarded.

Leases, Rent, and Fees Under Iowa Law

  • Rent Is Due: Rent is due at the beginning of any term of one month or less, unless an alternative agreement is made in the lease. Rent is apportioned day-to-day, unless agreed otherwise. (§§ 562A.9(3))
  • Rent Increase Notice: At least 30 days written notice is required before the effective date of a rent increase. That effective date shall not be sooner than the expiration date of the original rental agreement or any renewal or extension. (§§ 562A.13(5))
  • Rent Grace Period: No statute
  • Late Fees: If the rent is $700 or less per month, a late fee of up to $12 per day or a total amount of $60 per month, may be charged. If the rent is more than $700 per month, a late fee of up to $20 per day, or a total of $100 per month, may be charged. (§§ 562A.9(4))
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute
  • Returned Check Fees: Not to exceed $30 (§§ 554.3512)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Allowed. If the landlord sues to evict for nonpayment of rent, the tenant may use as a defense the landlord’s noncompliance with the rental agreement or statutory landlord duties. The tenant must show that the tenant gave notice to the landlord, seven days before the rent due date, expressing an intention to “correct the condition constituting the breach.” The tenant must also show that the costs of any such correction or repairs is equal or less than one month’s rent, and that the correction was made before receiving any written notice from the landlord that the rental agreement is terminated due to nonpayment of rent. (§§ 562A.27(4) and §§ 562A.24)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes. If landlord fails to supply essential services, the tenant may, after giving written notice, procure reasonable amounts of essential services and deduct the cost from the rent. See statute for other provisions and remedies. (§§ 562A.23)
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: In any lawsuit over a rental agreement, the court may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party. The rental agreement may not include a requirement that the either party pay the other’s attorney fees. In eviction cases, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney fees. (§§ 562A.12(8), §§ 562A.11(1)(c), and §§ 562A.34(4))
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (see §§ 562A.4(1) and §§ 562A.29(3)).
  • Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute

Evictions in Iowa

These are the most common reasons for pursuing eviction in Iowa:

  1. Nonpayment of rent – If rent is not paid, then the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to pay after any applicable grace period. If the tenant still does not pay then the landlord can pursue formal eviction.
  2. Violation of lease terms – If a lease violation occurs, landlords can issue a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Quit. If the behavior is not changed within 7 days then the landlord may pursue formal eviction.
  3. Illegal actions – If a landlord documents some illegal activity within 1,000 ft. of the property then they may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. Examples of illegal activities that warrant eviction in Iowa include assault, selling/using drugs, or owning an unregistered firearm.

At-will tenants are entitled to receive at least a 30-day notice before being evicted. If those 30 days pass and the tenant has not left, the landlord can file a 3-Day Notice to Quit then file a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit.

Helpful Links

State Agencies & Regulatory Bodies

Realtor and Landlord/Tenant Associations

These resources are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.

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