Iowa Eviction Laws and Eviction Process

A reference of Iowa Eviction Laws, and steps of the Iowa eviction process for landlords and renters, updated 2021.

  • What notice do Iowa eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
    • For evictions in Iowa based on non-payment of rent, the landlord must give a 3-day notice to the tenant to address the issue. (Iowa Code Ann §562A.27). If the tenant does not pay the rent within that timeframe, the landlord can petition the court for forcible entry and detainer. (Iowa Code Ann §562A.27(2)).
    • For evictions based on non-compliance of the lease agreement, the landlord must give a 7-day notice of non-compliance. The notice must state the acts and omissions that constitute the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate on a date at least 7 days past the date the tenant receives the notice. If the tenant remedies the issue within seven days, the agreement does not terminate. (Iowa Code Ann §562A.27).
    • For evictions based on a health or safety violation, the landlord must provide a 7-day notice to the tenant and give them a chance to remedy the problem. (Iowa Code Ann §562A.27).
    • For evictions based on creating a clear and present danger to others, the landlord must provide a 3-day notice to the tenant. (Iowa Code Ann §562A.27(A)).
    • For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, the notice depends on the type of tenancy. If the tenancy is week-to-week, the landlord must provide a 10-day notice. For monthly tenancies, the landlord must provide at least 30 days’ notice before terminating the lease.  (Iowa Code Ann §562A.34).
  • Do Iowa eviction laws allow landlords to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities? 
    • No. Iowa law forbids landlords from using self-help eviction methods. If a landlord unlawfully removes or excludes the tenant from the property or willfully interrupts or causes the interruption of utility services, the tenant can seek to recover possession of the property or terminate the rental agreement. Additionally, the tenant may be able to recover their actual damages,  punitive damages up to twice the monthly rental payment, and reasonable attorney’s fees. (Iowa Code Ann §562A.26).

Eviction Process in Iowa: Step-by-Step

The eviction process in Iowa involves the following steps: 

  1. Serve the Appropriate Eviction Notice. The landlord must serve the tenant with the proper notice, giving them three days, seven days, ten days, or 30 days to respond, depending on the reason for eviction and the information included within the notice. The best way to serve the tenant is through personal service. Alternatively, the landlord can post a copy of the eviction notice at the rental unit and send a copy by certified mail. 
  2. File Legal Paperwork Next, the landlord officially begins the eviction process in Iowa by filing the legal paperwork. This includes the following:
  • Original notice and petition for forcible entry and detainer that describes the type of lease violation and states the reasons for the eviction
  • Verification of Account forms, which are filed with the clerk of the district court or small claims court where the property is located that identifies the tenant and the rental property
  1. Serve the Tenant. The landlord must serve the tenant with the legal documents they filed with the court.
  2. Answer the Lawsuit. The tenant can provide a written answer to the lawsuit to contest the eviction, if they so choose.
  3. Attend the Hearing. The court schedules a hearing 8 to 15 days after the landlord files the petition. At the hearing, each side is given an opportunity to present their case. The judge renders a decision. If the tenant did not appear at the hearing or the court rules in the landlord’s favor, the tenant must move out and the landlord can regain possession of the rental unit.
  4. Appeal the Decision. If either party disagrees with the court’s decision, they can appeal the court’s decision within 20 days of when it was made. 
  5. Request a Writ of Execution. If the landlord wins the case, they will ask the judge to issue a writ of removal and possession. This document allows the sheriff to forcibly remove the tenant from the rental premises. 

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