Landlords send out the Iowa rental application form to potential tenants as a way to gather data. In order to select a tenant, the application includes inquiries about eviction history, past rental history, and financial information.

What to Include

An Iowa rental application requires particular information from landlords and tenants. This ensures that it complies with applicable state regulations and enables decision-making. You must include the following:

  • Details about the rental property and its condition
  • Shared utility arrangements
  • The security deposit
  • Potential hazards to the tenant
  • Associated fees
  • Rent control rules
  • When to pay rent and the monthly rental fee
  • Smoking policy

This information is required in order to protect landlords, applicants, and property management companies.

What Not to Include

There are a few things you can't include in Iowa rental applications. As per the Federal Fair Housing Act, you can't discriminate against certain classes. This includes:

  • Color
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality/ National Origin
  • Disability (Mental or Physical)
  • Familial status (Children or No Children)

It is against the law to inquire about any of these things on an Iowa rental application form or to make a decision on a prospective tenant based on these factors. There are no other state-protected classes in Iowa.

Laws governing fair housing do have exceptions. The following exclusions are permitted in Iowa:

  • Owner-Occupied Properties: The Fair Housing Act does not apply to properties with four or fewer units if the property owner inhabits one unit - unless the landlord is represented by a real estate agent.
  • Age: In cases when a community has an age restriction, the landlord may inquire about the applicant's age. The Housing for Older Persons Exemption, a federal exemption, is applicable to licensed senior living complexes that meet the criteria.
  • Religious Organizations: Certain applicants may be given preference for property supervised, owned, controlled, or operated by a religious organization that doesn't rent for commercial reasons on the basis of their religious convictions. However, because of this exemption, other protected classes may not serve as the foundation for a choice. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
  • Familial Status: In any two-family owner-occupied property, a landlord is allowed to inquire about and gather information about applicants' ages for use in making a leasing decision.
  • Private Clubs: Applications for lodgings run or owned by the club may receive favorable treatment from private clubs running without commercial aim or public access. 42 U.S. Code § 3607

Rental Application Fee Laws

There's no maximum rental application fee that a landlord may charge a potential renter in Iowa. The landlord makes the final decision.

Furthermore, the state of Iowa doesn’t set a maximum amount or limitation on security deposits; however, counties and cities are free to set their own restrictions. Nevertheless, security deposits must be kept in a credit union, bank, or savings and loan association that is federally insured. The landlord's private funds must be kept apart from the deposit.

Background Checks

The tenant screening process allows you to conduct a background check on the prospective tenant to decide whether to continue with the Iowa rental application or not. The screening criteria include:

  • Criminal History Check: A criminal history check tries to reveal any records concerning the renter in databases such as state court criminal records or the national sex offender public registry.
  • Credit Check: These are all subject to the tenant's written approval. The evaluation on a credit history check will either be a simple "pass/fail" report or a comprehensive credit report with the tenant's credit score and information about their job, credit queries, previous addresses, income, and more.
  • Eviction Check: A tenant's history of eviction files or verdicts against them over the course of the prior seven years is noted on an eviction check.

Laws and Consent

In terms of the Federal Credit Reporting Act, the applicant must give written consent before a lessor can use the data on the submitted rental application that relates to the prospective lessee to conduct a background check. A signature and statement to that effect can be included in the rental application form itself, or a separate consent form can be utilized to obtain this written consent.

Eviction Record Search

Landlords in Iowa who want to conduct an eviction record search have two options: either conduct a manual search of the public court records or use a third-party service.

To locate the records by hand:

  1. Go to the Iowa Courts Online Search
  2. View any existing record by entering the name of the prospective tenant
  3. Find the case number relating to the case you’re looking for. You can see a more thorough summary by clicking "Filings" at the top of the record. A $25 per month internet search subscription may be necessary to access some information.

Adverse Action Notices

If you obtain a consumer report about an applicant (such as information about their eviction history, credit status, or criminal record) and take any of the following "adverse action" against them:

  • Requiring a co-signer
  • Rejecting the applicant
  • Requiring higher rent
  • Requesting a larger security deposit

Then you must formally notify the renter via a letter called the "adverse action notice" that contains specific information. Even if the information from the consumer report wasn't the main driver of the activity, this is still necessary.

Moreover, the notice must include a statement that the applicant has the right to a copy of the report and to contest its accuracy within 60 days, the consumer reporting agency, and that the consumer reporting agency didn't take the adverse action themselves and cannot explain why it was made. When rejecting prospective tenants, it’s encouraged to give the reason (although not legally necessary).

Build Your Own

If you want to simplify the process of filling out a rental application in Iowa, you can use our free rental application form. 

Furthermore, you can build your own by making any necessary adjustments to our forms.


We hope that this guide has made it easier for you to comprehend all of the specifics pertaining to these documents for the tenant screening process. Download our free template if you need further assistance.


Why Do I Need an Iowa Rental Application?

Before entering into a binding contract with your tenant, you have the chance to get to know them better by requesting an Iowa rental application.

What Can You Do with a Rental Application?

You can evaluate important information such as:

  • Rental history
  • Credit issues
  • Criminal history
  • Verify income and employment

How Do I Fill Out an Iowa Rental Application Form?

Our contract creator and template resources make it simple to create a rental application. You'll need to fill out all the information and include relevant legal disclosures.

Free Downloads

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!