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

  • Scott McCampbell

    Any experience with the landlord tenant situation in Davenport IA…. where legal aid refuses any assistance to disabled citizens being railroaded by bad landlords, with properties that should be condemned, and the legal system? Where a defendant is not allowed to present any evidence what so ever in a small claims hearing? I just wondered.

    • Brandonlyn

      I am losing my hud because, I had to tell hud the landlord was charging me to much money. Yes, I am disabiltled. Iowa just took my ssi. This is not right.

  • Duane S Perkins

    Is there a time limit that a renter can require a Tennant to renew a lease? Current landlord states if renewal not signed 6 months before expiration landlord will begin showing premises for others to rent. Current lease is Aug 2017 – July 2018 and landlord planning on renewal of Aug 2018 – July 2019 in October 2018.

  • Dwight Leichliter

    I have lived in a mobile home park for 3 years now. Starting January 1st they​ have started charging me a late fee for my past due balance even when the rent itself is not late. Is this legal?

  • Curtis Heath

    Does the tenant have for water,gas lights and trash while renting?

  • Keli hyde

    I moved into a rental three weeks ago today my water was shut off I called to find out what was going on. Turns out the landlord was told not to rent that he had to pass a rental inspection first which he had not done. Now I am stuck in a house with two kids and no water and he has all my money refusing to refund it or to fix the problem. Any suggestions on what to do I am located in southeast Iowa. Thank you

  • Ranee

    I’m renting a house the landlord had a guy come remove tree stumps. Now I’m having problems with the toilet bathtub and my washer backing up in my tub . And she says I have to pay for it. I think the guy might of crushed our sewer pipe.

  • Shayla

    I moved into my apartment in may. I had a broken pipe leak in my ceiling so they came in and tore down the ceiling claiming to come back and fix it and they still havent i have asked them multiple times to come fix it and they ignore me i have exposed sewage pipes insulation and mold what should i do

  • Clarence

    I was assaulted and end up going to the hospital via ambulance at my girlfriend apartment complex. A few days later the landlord had police serve me a trespassing notice based on hearsay that I provoked the fight. Yet no arrest nor no suspect has been identified in the assault. So I’m curious as to how can the apartment complex manager have me held accountable and placed on a trespassing notice?


    can the landlord just come over and time he wants? my landlord doesn’t call he just come into the house if i am home or at work … but when i ask him to fix the sink he wouldn’t come, it took him over a mos and when he did all he did was take it apart and left the pieces all over the floor and i ending up trying to put the pipes back together (am a single mother) hope i did it right …. what can i do about him?

  • Sara K

    Is there any law about pests or vermin in site? We recently moved in less than a month ago, and I just found a bat in the basement after I went down to do laundry and it flew at my head when I turned on the lights. Bats are a protected species in Iowa so we’re not supposed to kill them, and our landlord wont do anything about it, and is trying to say we probably have food laying around…in the basement which is only used for storage. He said we could go ahead and kill it. Our main concern is how did it even get in there in the first place, but the landlord doesn’t seem concerned at all.

  • Kayla Clinton

    Moved to first apt complex. First 2 months I had a peeping tom.Office said I should’ve called the cops? If occurred again call cops!😤Spoke with other renter near me. Learned the previous tenant was very dirty. Its 4 months in and just SAW a roach! Im confident now the “beetles” 3x previously were actually them. Never had prior pest issues in rental history big on cleanlines OCD with babies also phobia of bugs/rodents.What do I do? I’ll be irrate if lanlord said were cause! Who’s responsible for pest removal? Am I able to break lease since unaware of roach issue prior to signing 6 month lease ?

  • Candace

    Just rented an apartment with obvious signs of lead based paint. Didn’t realize this until move in day. Is there someone I can call about that? Is it even an issue since I don’t have children?

    • Kayden

      I work at a rental company in Ames, and by law they are required to give you a notice of possible lead paint in the premises, and the tenant is required to sign the form of knowledge/acceptance.

      “Landlords have to disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure about lead-based paint.” (

  • Jason N

    Can the landlord sign a rental agreement with someone else while I’m living here.

  • Karen Reason

    Any landlords every mail certified letter with move out inspection and list of damages to past tenant and they refused the letter
    What is the next step to having them pay for damages or serving the papers


    Recently the city of Keokuk purchased a large office building and is renting a part of it, and is planning to spend over a Million dollars to upgrade the facility including asbestos removal. This is great for the city unless you are a landowner that has office space for rent. Is there any restrictions on a city or town in Iowa owning property and collecting rents?

  • Chris

    If the property you are renting has been condemned by an inspector, and ou have short notice to move out, does the owner/landlord bear any responsibility financially to the tenants?

  • Brian

    Me and my girlfriend are trying to better our life by moving in to a nicer apartment. But we can’t do that here in Iowacity because they have so many rules and restrictions for pets and credit and all this bullshit.

  • Myrna L Mathis

    Is their a time limit on how long a tenant in Iowa has to take a landlord to small claims court after no letter or return of security deposit? I have sent certified letter for the return,had 4witnesses of condition of property when I moved out plus 50 pictures!

  • Christy

    Can a tenant have over night guest .

  • Tammy bierman

    If I am in a talk and they are trying to sale the property I am renting do I till have to pay rent


    i had a landlord just force me out(refused to renew lease)due to my complaints regarding roaches and mice, I had wanted to move so my son helped with the moving expenses. Now ex landlord is threatening to sue us for balance due,what can i do to him if he attempts to sue

  • James

    Can a landlord have someone that rents from him rent to others and get rent money from them for themselves not the landlord himself but Ken the renter rent to somebody and get money from them and keep it and can they evict you and not the landlord by law

  • Miranda

    In Clayton County Iowa, a tenant came home to their son sitting in the dark. It was October 22nd with a temperature of 45. The landlord is supposed to pay utilities. The landlord wants to move a female in that he likes and recently has been showing interest in him. The landlord has not stopped, or tried to contact the tenant in any way. What actions should the tenant take? They are a single parent of two children. These kids need running water, electricity, and heat.

  • James Sagers

    I have a question I’ve been living in my cousins house for the past 6 months in Clinton Iowa he has not lived here but has been renting it to me for the past 6 months isn’t it illegal to take my money for rent if u do not have a renters license or never had the house inspected so it could be rented and now he’s going to prison and I have ppl threatening me and trying to pay ppl to break in this house idk what to do is there legal action I can take I kept this short there is more to the store but I need a lawyer to call anyone kno one plz lmk thank u and have a good day

  • sdee

    i owe rent to a couple who is allowed me to stay in there basement i was locked out and denied access to my belongings and have been threatened with them not giving me any of my property and then when i had the money i owed they ignored me until they were at work only to deny me again more than a day later 14 days of living out of my car i stayed at a friends house and my wallet went missing conveniently they texted me an half hour after i was robbed and told how i was causing there child suffer because i have a gambling addiction and a shopping addiction what doni do

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