Rental agreements in Iowa usually come with extensive clauses that both landlords and tenants have to understand and agree on to keep a healthy leasing relationship. These clauses may be slightly different depending on the state, and they may also be adapted to comply with local laws and landlord requirements. Not following these laws could end up in lawsuits that affect all parties, so every demand in the Iowa landlord tenant laws must be met accordingly.
To make things easier for people looking for leases in the Iowa state, here's an overview of the general Iowa landlord-tenant laws. These laws explain landlords' and tenant's rights and obligations at the time of drafting a lease document. If you have any specific doubts about your case, make sure to seek legal advice from an Iowa property manager or lawyer.
It's important to note that this article covers the landlord-tenant laws for dwelling units. If you're looking for clauses for mobile homes, make sure to read the "Mobile Home Parks Landlord and Tenant Act," which contains some additional laws that you should be aware of.
What Does a Rental Agreement Include in Iowa?
Every law in Iowa regarding rental agreements is stated in the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Law (Chapter 562A-12). According to these clauses, every rental agreement must include specific information regarding the conditions for the lease. While this information may vary slightly depending on the area, it generally has to be the following:
- Description of the leased unit.
- Contact information of the parties involved.
- Cost of rent, due date, grace period clauses, and late fee clauses.
- Security deposits.
- Party responsible for repairs and maintenance.
Is Iowa a Landlord-Friendly State?
Iowa is considered a landlord-friendly state because it doesn't impose any rent control policies and the notice requirements aren't as high as in other states; this allows the landlords to be more flexible with their rent and notice requirements.
Do Rental Agreements Have to be Written in Iowa?
A rental agreement in Iowa may be oral or written, depending on the landlords' and tenants' needs. However, it's always recommended that these agreements are held in physical form since they can be used as proof whenever there's a dispute between both parties or if there's a lawsuit taken to a small claims court.
If the rental period goes beyond one year, the landlord must provide a written lease agreement document.
What Are Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities in Iowa?
Landlords in Iowa are legally allowed to collect rent payments on their due date, start eviction proceedings if there are any breaches in the lease document, and deduct repair costs from the security deposit if the tenant refuses to pay.
On the other hand, landlords must provide their tenants with a rental unit that complies with local building and housing codes, as well as health and safety protocols. Landlords in Iowa must supply running water, air conditioning, electrical plumbing, sanitary, heating, and any other essential utilities required.
If there are any damages that exceed normal wear and tear, tenant rights allow them to send a written notice for repair, which is usually seven days. The landlord’s duties require them to respond within this time frame; otherwise, the tenants may withhold rent or deduct the cost of repair from the rent.
What Are Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities in Iowa?
An Iowa tenant has the legal right to request a habitable unit to live in, make a written notice for repairs, and have due process before an eviction. If the landlord fails to comply with these terms, the tenant can seek legal help. Keep in mind that these rights still apply even if they weren't specified in the lease agreement.
Alternatively, landlord-tenant laws require the tenant to comply with the following terms from the start to the end of the lease term:
- Pay rent on time.
- Keep the property in clean and safe conditions.
- Send a written notice if there are any required repairs on the unit.
- Not disturb neighbors or other tenants.
Iowa Landlord-Tenant Law Clauses
According to Iowa landlord-tenant laws (Chapter 562A-12), rent is always paid monthly at the beginning of each month. A landlord may charge any amount of rent they consider appropriate, but if they don't state any specific amount in the agreement, the cost of rent is going to be equal to the fair rental value of the property.
Receipts are not required for rent payments, but they are heavily encouraged to keep each payment's physical proof.
If the rent cost is $700 or lower, the landlord cannot charge late fees higher than $60 per month or $12 per day. In the case that the cost of rent is higher than $700, these fees may not be higher than $100 per month or $20 per day.
A landlord may increase the rent price without justification, but they must give their tenant at least 30 days' written notice.
Last but not least, there are no current grace periods for Iowa landlords and tenants, meaning that the landlord is free to include (or not) a grace period in the lease document.
According to local landlord-tenant laws, the landlord may collect a security deposit from their tenant. However, this security deposit cannot be higher than the cost of two months' rent.
The security deposit should be returned within 30 days of the tenant leaving the property. Landlords have to provide an itemized statement of every repair they're going to do to the unit if they're planning to withhold the security deposit partially.
Landlords may withhold a security deposit for the following reasons:
- The tenants withhold rent payments.
- There are some unpaid utilities.
- The damage in the property exceeds normal wear and tear.
When it comes to any interest earned on the security deposit, the landlord doesn't have to pay it. This means that the amount of interest earned on this deposit is going to be the landlord's property.
On the other hand, the tenant must provide the landlord their forwarding address within one year of moving out to receive the deposit. If the tenant fails to do this, the security deposit automatically becomes the landlord's property.
Lease Termination and Eviction
Landlords may terminate a lease after it ends for any reason they consider appropriate. However, there are several notice requirements that need to be followed. Depending on the type of lease, the notice must be sent within the following days:
- Weekly Lease Notice: 10 days' notice.
- Monthly Lease Notice: 30 days' notice.
- Quarterly Lease Notice: N/a.
- Yearly Lease Notice: 30 days' notice.
Alternatively, a tenant may terminate the lease early for reasons such as domestic violence, harassment, active military duty, early termination clauses, etc.
A tenant may receive a notice to quit from their landlord for several reasons that pose grounds for eviction, such as the tenant not paying rent, criminal activity, or a breach in lease terms.
In the case of nonpayment of rent or criminal activity, the landlord can provide tenants three days of notice to pay/quit. If the case was a breach of the lease, the notice could be of at least seven days' written notice.
An at-will tenant must receive at least 30 days' notice before getting evicted. After these 30 days, the landlord can file a Forcible Entry and Detainer lawsuit.
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Iowa.
The Fair Housing Act and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission protect the tenant from any type of discrimination against them. According to these laws, Iowa tenants cannot be discriminated against for their color, religion, sex, gender, familial or marital status, etc. Read more about Iowa's Fair Housing Guide.
Small Claims Court
A small claims court in Iowa can hear lawsuits of up to $5,000. While the state court is the primary handler of eviction cases, a small claims court can also handle eviction cases if needed.
These are the general laws and clauses that both parties should keep track of to maintain a great leasing relationship. Keep in mind that these terms may also depend on the landlord's requirements, and they may be adjusted accordingly after a lease term expires.
If you have any additional questions regarding the Iowa landlord tenant laws, make sure to seek legal advice.
What information about property managers must the landlord disclose to the tenant?
Landlords must provide the name and address of both the owner of the unit and the property manager.
Must the landlord disclose information about lead paint?
If the property was built before 1978, the landlord must provide information about lead paint concentrations and hazards inside the unit. Additionally, they may provide a copy of EPA's pamphlet.
What are the regulations regarding changing the locks in Iowa?
Iowa tenants are assumed to be able to change the property's locks with advanced notice since there aren't any specifications of this in Iowa law. In most cases, tenants may request a lock changing in the unit for harassment or domestic violence cases.
Does the landlord have the right to enter the property?
According to landlord-tenant clauses in Iowa, landlords must provide at least 24-hours notice before entry. While this is the "norm," the landlord and tenant may come up with their own terms of notification for access.