Iowa Rental Laws

Written on May 14, 2015 by , updated on February 26, 2018

flag-of-iowaThis article summarizes some key Iowa landlord-tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the state bar association. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.

Official Rules and Regulations

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No more than two months rent. (§§ 562A.12(1))
  • Security Deposit Interest: Any interest earned on a rental deposit during the first five years of a tenancy is the property of the landlord. (§§ 562A.12(2))
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Deposits shall be held in a federally insured bank or other financial institution and can not be commingled with the landlord’s personal funds. (§§ 562A.12(2))
  • Pet Deposits: No statute
  • Non-Refundable Fees: No statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days from the date of the tenants’ move-out date and the receipt of the tenant’s mailing address and/or delivery instructions. (§§ 562A.12(3)(a))
  • Permitted Uses of the Deposit:
    • To cover unpaid rent or other funds due to the landlord;
    • To restore the unit to the condition it was in at the beginning of the tenancy, except for ordinary wear and tear;
    • To recover expenses incurred in acquiring possession of the premises from a tenant who does not act in good faith in failing to surrender and vacate the premises upon noncompliance with the rental agreement and proper notification of such noncompliance. (§§ 562A.12(3)(a))
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes, a written statement showing the specific reason for withholding the rental deposit or any portion thereof is required to be provided to the tenant within 30 days of move-out. (§ 562A.12(3)(a))
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: In a lawsuit over the rental deposit, the landlord has the burden to prove the reason for withholding all or any portion of the deposit. (§§ 562A.12(3)(b))
  • Receipt of Deposit: No statute
  • Failure to Comply: If the landlord fails to provide a written statement of deposit withholdings within 30 days, the landlord forfeits the right to withhold any portion of the deposit. If no mailing address or delivery instructions are provided to the landlord within one year from the termination of the tenancy the rental deposit shall revert to the landlord and the tenant will be deemed to have forfeited all rights to the rental deposit. The bad-faith retention of all or part of a deposit by a landlord, makes the landlord liable for punitive damages up to twice the monthly rent plus actual damages. (§§ 562A.12(4) and (7))

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Is Due: Unless agreed to otherwise in the lease, rent is due at the beginning of any term of one month or less. (§§ 562A.9(3))
  • Rent Increase Notice: At least 30 days written notice required before the effective date. Such effective date shall not be sooner than the expiration date of 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, the lease may include a late fee of up to $12 per day, or a total amount of $60 per month. If the rent is more than $700 per month, the lease may provide for a late fee of up to $20 per day, or a total amount of $100 per month. (§§ 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 landlord sues to evict for nonpayment of rent, tenant may use as a defense the landlord’s noncompliance with the rental agreement or statutory Landlord Duties, if the tenant gave seven-day notice prior to the rent due date of the tenant’s intention to correct the condition constituting the breach, and the reasonable cost of that correction is equal to or less than one month’s rent, and the correction was made prior to receipt of written notice of the landlord’s intention to terminate the rental agreement for nonpayment of rent. (§§ 562A.27(4) and §§ 562A.24)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Allowed. If landlord fails to supply essential services, the tenant may, after giving written notice, procure reasonable amounts of essential services and deduct their 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 part pay the other party’s attorney fees. In eviction cases, landlord may recover the actual damages sustained by the landlord and reasonable attorney fees. (§§ 562A.12(8) and §§ 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 (§§ 562A.4(1) and §§ 562A.29(3))
  • Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: Notice not required as the lease simply ends.
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Yearly Lease with No End Date: Either landlord or tenant may terminate a tenancy having a term longer than month-to-month by written notice given to the other at least 30 days before the end of the first or subsequent term of the tenancy specified in the notice. (§§ 562A.34(3))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: Either landlord or tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by written notice to the other at least 30 days before the periodic rental date specified in the notice. (§§ 562A.34(2))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: Either landlord or tenant may terminate a week-to-week tenancy by written notice to the other at least 10 days before the termination date specified in the notice. (§§ 562A.34(1))
  • Termination of Tenancy for Creating a Clear and Present Danger to Others: Three-day written notice of termination and notice to quit required stating the specific activity causing the clear and present danger, and the tenant has the opportunity to contest the termination in court. (§§ 562A.27(1) and (2))
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Notice of Termination for Nonpayment: Three-day written notice (§§ 562A.27(2))
  • Termination for Lease Violation: Seven-day notice specifying the violation. (§§ 562A.27(1))
  • Unconditional Termination for Lease Violation: If a similar violation occurs within six months of a previous notice that the tenant remedied, the landlord can unconditionally terminate the agreement with seven days’ notice. (§§ 562A.27(1))
  • Required Notice before Entry: At least 24-hour notice required and entry allowed only at reasonable times. (§§ 562A.19(3))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (§§ 562A.19(1))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes (§§ 562A.19(1))
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (§§ 562A.19 A(2))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Entry allowed if tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, and when reasonably necessary during an absence of the tenant longer than 14 days. Also, the rental agreement may require the tenant to notify the landlord of any anticipated extended absence no later than the first day of the extended absence. (§§ 562A.19(4) and §§ 562A.20 and §§ 562A.29(2))
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No. See §§ 562A.26 for remedies. (§§ 562A.33)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. See §§ 562A.26 for remedies. (§§ 562A.33)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: The landlord shall provide the tenant in writing before the start of the tenancy the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises, and that of an owner of the premises or other person authorized to act on behalf of the owner for the service of process and for receipt of notices and demands. (§§ 562A.13)
  • Utility Rates: Landlord or authorized property manager shall fully explain utility rates, charges and services to the prospective tenant before the rental agreement is signed, unless utilities are paid by the tenant directly to the utility company. (§§ 562A.13(4))
  • Environmental Liability: Landlord or authorized property manager shall disclose to each tenant in writing before the start of the tenancy if the property is listed in the comprehensive environmental response compensation and liability information system maintained by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. (§§ 562A.13(6))
  • Copy of the Lease: No statute
  • Domestic Violence Situations:
    • Proof of Status: Landlord is entitled to verify claim of Domestic Violence status.
    • Protection from Termination: Landlord cannot terminate a tenancy, fail to renew a tenancy, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement with a victim of domestic violence. (§§ 562A.27A(3))
  • Landlord’s Duties: (§§ 562A.15)
    • Compliance: Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
    • Repairs: Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
    • Common Areas: Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition;
    • Maintenance: Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied; and
    • Trash: Provide appropriate receptacles, accessible to all tenants, for collection and removal of waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal; and
    • Heat: Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat between October 1 and May 1 except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.
  • Tenant’s Duties: (§§ 562A.17)
    • Compliance: Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
    • Cleanliness: Keep the premises that tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
    • Trash: Dispose of all garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
    • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
    • Appliances: Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises;
    • Lawful Activity: Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so; and
    • Quiet Enjoyment: Conduct themselves and require other persons on the premises with tenant consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
  • Retaliation: Landlord must not terminate, refuse to renew a lease, or increase rent to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, or has been involved in a tenant’s organization. Any such act against the tenant within one-year of a good-faith complaint will be considered retaliatory. Other actions are prohibited. Read §§ 562A.36 for more information.
  • Lead Disclosure:  Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
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70 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Lucas

    Wow, this is awesome. Thank you for putting this together Joe!

  • Glenn

    I agree. Thorough and current. Great job. Thanks!

  • Jeff Krajcir

    After 5 years of renting a house what is considered normal wear and tear?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jeff,

      It’s the same as renting a house for 1 year or 10 years. Would an average person cause the damage that you are thinking about, under normal circumstances?

  • lisa

    I have a question my landlord wants me to move in 30 days because I have a dog,and I n my lease it says I can have a pet as long as I have a doctors note and I pay 100 extra for deposit.i m getting the note Friday and I offered to even pay$ 500 more I also offered to recarpet and remodel everything when I move.I always pay my rent on time and I’ve been a good tenant for almost a year.she was perfectly OK with me getting a note and I have texts proving she said dog can stay.all of the sudden I get a letter asking g me to leave..Wtf??? I know I’m 100% right what should I do? Please help

  • B. Roths

    Our landlord has decided he is now doing the maintenance for all of the buildings, including the mowing. Painting gets started and never finished, garbage bags are not delivered, snow removal is not done timely,nor is the mowing. The side walks are cracked to the point that I have tripped with my walker and another neighbor was almost thrown from her wheelchair. When someone moves and before a new tenant moves in, all that is done is the carpet is cleaned. No cleaning is done and some of the apartments were pretty disgusting. A couple of tenants have had to paint the apartment themselves because the walls were in bad shape. What can we do to resolve some of these issues? When asked about it, the landlord gets very rude to us. Thank you.

  • Shanti Gabriel

    I’m looking at a house to rent. The woman who is handling this is not the owner. She is relaying to me that I “get” to have her clean twice a month as part of the rental agreement. She also said that she wants to check in to make sure the property is in good shape. WHAT? I’ve rented properties for over 15 years … and I’ve never heard of such a thing. I personally would call this SPYING. I’m sure she mainly doing just what she said “making sure the property is being well taken care of.” HOWEVER, I’m a highly private person and I can honestly be a little messy at times. That’s it. Otherwise I’m your average middle of the road housekeeper. Regardless, is this LEGAL??? I meet with her tomorrow & will not rent if this is the only choice

  • Michael Anderson

    I live in a senior apt where a water pipe broke on the third floor flooding many apartments below. Management has hardly been here to attend to the problem. What recourse do we tenants have? Some have gone to a motel because there is water in their unit. Items have been damaged or destroyed. It is causing all kinds of inconvenience to us tenants. But we are shocked that management has not been seemingly involved in rectifying the situation.

  • Sarah Bass

    my landlord offered to sell us a house on contract, our move in date kept changing over a period of 3 months and he kept dragging his feet on contract. so we told him we might have found something else that we were waiting for the contract to be brought up that we would probably be moving out by the 1st of July. He got mad cause we were not buying there house and 2 days later we got an intent to vacate letter we have to be out by June 1st. we cant move in to our house till June 27th.. What rights do i have and what can i do to prolong it…

  • Jeff Phillips

    Can I have my wife removed from our lease in iowa? She moved out a couple of months ago. We are no longer together and she moved out of state.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jeff

      Generally, any changes to a lease need to be approved by all parties who originally signed it. So, try to talk to your landlord about it

  • Sarah Joe

    Pt 1
    Ok question here. I live in Iowa in an apartment. In the apartments i live in you can send a maintance request on the apartments website but im order to fo it online you have to agree to let maintenance enter without notice. I was fine with that for this one time. I needed my air conditioner looked at. I’m always usually home amyways. Well that was like a month or so ago maintance had came in when i wasn’t home and looked at it and left a note stating that. Well yeaterday morning i hear my door shut I’m in bed asleep it was 8:55 in the morning. Office’s at my apartments don’t open until 9. I see this strange guy which I’m guessing is new maintance because they never keep the same one here long but he had a key.

  • Sarah Joe

    Pt 2
    Here i am laying in bed freaking out. I just got woken up by some strange man walking in my apartment. As I’m a stay home mom and my 1 year old is asleep in the next room. I was getting in my attack mode. When the guy walked out and locked the door. He was in my apartment for like literally 1 minute. He only went into my living room. My question is are they allowed to do that. I don’t even know what the guy did or was even doing in my apartment. I had no maintance request and also no inform of enrty. He didn’t even leave a note saying maintance was here or anything. It happend to me before with the last maintance dude walking in while i was in bed. It freaks me out. What if they walk in as I’m getting out of the shower or something!

  • Jason

    My landlord sold the house we were renting. Proper notice was given for that. upon last day to be out, we still had belongings at the property,we were working on getting out. major items (couches, tables,beds, dressers, etc) were out already, but we still had some property left (including some in garage).we had a verbal agreement with lady buying the house, she said we have couple extra days getting the items out, as long as she could come thru with her contractors and start making plans for remodel (which we agreed to). Upon closing the landlord realtor charged $1000 for fee for a dumpster to remove everything. How long do they have to hold items left (Iowa)? We got all items out but landlord now wants us to pay the $1000 fee that he paid

  • Becca

    Hi i moved in to a.condo, which i actually started working in the office for as well. I have my rent and electric taken out of my paycheck every month. Ive been there for 6 months now, but was just recently fired for not coming back to work as I was told not to come back ever after taking my daughter to work and I was going to be alittle late. My landlord shut off my electric (i have 3 young kids) and says he wants me out NOW because i never signed a lease. I was never offered one…is it legal what hes doing? Please help.

  • Jeff Steger

    I was told the duplex im living in has been sold to another management company…talked to the new manager 3weeks ago..i have not received any official documents stating this im very concerned about paying my rent …its like im in limbo.. the tenant s on the other side have not received any thing official either…when i talked to the new manager she said not to worry and i will be contacted. ..

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jeff

      I wouldn’t worry about it. Just keep doing what’s in your lease until you receive official written notice. If you send rent to the wrong place because they didn’t notify you, then that’s their fault. They have the burden of notifying you. Until then, follow your existing lease.

  • Michelle

    My former landlord kept the majority of my $1500 security deposit for cleaning supplies, gas for travel to property and cleaning of windows, appliances, floors and duct work. I cleaned the property thoroughly and even paid to have the carpets professionally cleaned. I also paid a cleaning lady to clean every other week while living there, almost 2 years. There was no unpaid rent, no damage and nothing to remove from the property. Can they do that? Also, in researching my position, I discovered that my deposit was not held in a separate account and also that the assessor’s office has the property listed as owner occupied and receiving the homestead credit. I filed a small claim and they are counter suing for lost wages and travel costs.

  • Cindi

    I currently rent out my home. We do not have a lease. I want to stop renting and just sell the house. Do I need an atty? How much notice to I give my tenants?

  • Jessica mcintire

    I moved into my apartment a year ago in April. My landlord is now selling his properties, will the new owners be able to charge me a new application and deposit fee?

  • David Reed

    Can a landlord make you pay extra for a garage that you don’t need or use?

  • Mario

    Situation :
    1 month late-$600
    Oral contract -month to month
    No written warnings from landlord
    No 7 day or 3 day notices for any violation
    Within 1 year of renting I’ve received 4 letters from city, stating violation codes (junk,pick up poop on streets when walking dog,*free* junk that was on curb)
    I fixed and corrected within the time limit and landlord has not gotten fined for it.
    He refuses to take my money, gave me 4 reasons why he wants me out yet his lawyer only served me with one reason. Late rent.
    He’s made it to 2 months late rent and still refuses to take my money. Which is in full .
    I called him and recorded him saying NO I DONT WANT YOUR MONEY I WANT YOU TO GET OUT. He has a history of kicking people out for INTEREST”

  • Mario

    Pt2
    Comes one day askes for rent money which I denied because he had no receit book with him then retaliates by serving me. Gave me a different paper saying I owe him this much then service paper saying I owe him a different amount.
    What can I do? I want to stand my ground! I’m not going to move just to make another person happy.

  • kristi

    If we sublease our apartment, is our deposit carried over to the next tenant that is subleasing? For some reason, my landlords think that the new tenant will pay a deposit and then when the lease is over, we will get ours back and they will get theirs back. Is that legal? how do they know who caused the damages?

  • Kim G

    I am looking into evicting a family from a home that the owner wants to fix up and sell. What is the law in Iowa concerning the winter months? The owner wants to be mindful of this process.

    Thank you

  • Steve Miner

    My friend has moved out of the house where she has been living with her husband. She is the only name on the lease. She called her landlord to ask to be taken off the lease. He said he was to busy and hung up on her. The lease was actually up last November of 2015. What does she need to do to be removed from this lease ?

  • Joselyn M.

    Hi. I am on housing. I had to recently toss out my mattress because of bed bugs. The landlord had the place inspected by Orkin and treated. They came a second time to spray once again. Its been about 2 weeks now and i seen one on my pillow. Which by the way i have a air mattress because i tossed the other one out. Anyway i can break my lease and have them move me elsewhere? My son had bites all over him. We are all sleeping on air mattresses. I have also bombed the house 4 times. Hope to hear from someone. Thank you.

  • David Wilson

    apartment complex contract states can change lock with permission and a key provided to her .changed the deadbolt because didn’t work right to begin with, it was two different locks combined the tumblers spun freely ,gave her old lock and key for new lock,she told me I couldn’t change the lock and wanted sixty five dollars for a lock that matched her master key. nowhere does it says that in contract. the lock was never changed when last tenant moved out.two people in the complex have told me they’ve had things tacked in the past.what do I do

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