This is a summary of Iowa Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Iowa Code and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about Iowa landlord-tenant laws, Iowa eviction laws, and Iowa renters’ rights.
However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.
Rules and Regulations Governing Iowa Landlord-Tenant Laws
- Iowa Code § 562A – Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
Iowa Lease Terms Provisions
Iowa Security Deposit Laws
- What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
The security deposit cannot exceed two month’s rent. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(1))
- Are security deposits required to earn interest?
Only after 5 years. Any interest earned on a rental deposit during the first 5 years of a tenancy is the property of the landlord. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(2))
- Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account?
Yes, Deposits may not be commingled with the landlord’s personal funds. Deposits shall be held by landlord for tenant in a bank or savings and loan association or credit union which is insured by an agency of the federal government. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(2))
- Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?
No. There is no Iowa law forbidding non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- How long do landlords have to return security deposits?
30 days from the date of termination of the tenancy and the landlord’s receipt of the tenant’s mailing address or delivery instructions. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(3)(a))
- Can landlords withhold security deposits?
Yes. Landlords can withhold the deposit for the following reasons to cover unpaid rent, to restore the dwelling unit to its condition at the beginning of the tenancy, excepting ordinary wear and tear, and to recover eviction expenses. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(3)(a))
- Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?
Yes. Landlords must provide a written statement showing the specific reason for withholding and specifying the nature of the damages. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(3)(a))
- Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?
No. There is no Iowa law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.
- Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?
In a court case concerning the rental deposit, the landlord must prove the reason(s) for withholding all or any portion of the rental deposit. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(3)(b))
- What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?
Landlord who fails to provide a written statement within 30 days of tenancy termination and receipt of tenant’s mailing address or delivery instructions shall forfeit all rights to withhold any portion of rental deposit. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(4)). If the landlord keeps the deposit in bad-faith the landlord is subject to punitive damages up to twice the monthly rental payment in addition to actual damages. (Iowa Code § 562A.12(7))
Iowa Rent Laws
- Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)
No. There are no rent control laws in Iowa.
- When is rent due?
Rent is due at the time and place agreed upon by the landlord and tenant. Unless they agree to a different arrangement, rent is due at the beginning of the month and will be paid in equal monthly installments. Unless otherwise agreed, rent shall be uniformly apportionable from day-to-day. (Iowa Code § 562A.9(3))
- Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?
No. There is no Iowa law requiring a certain payment method for rent.
- Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?
Yes. If the rent payment is $700 or less per month, the landlord may charge a late fee of up to $12 per day, or $60 total per month. If the rent payment is more than $700 per month, the landlord may charge a late fee of up to $20 per day, or $100 total per month. (Iowa Code § 562A.9(4))
- Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?
No. There is no Iowa law requiring a grace period before assessing late fees.
- Can landlords charge application fees?
Yes. There is no Iowa law forbidding application fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- Can landlords charge returned check fees?
Yes. Landlords can charge a late fee of $30 or less. (Iowa Code § 554.3512)
Iowa Landlord-Tenant Relations
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?
Yes. Landlords must provide 30 days’ written notice of any rent increase. (Iowa Code § 562A.13(5))
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?
No. There is no Iowa law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the rental property.
- What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?
No notice is required — the lease ends on the date stated in the lease.
- What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic tenancy?
Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease with 10 days’ written notice. (Iowa Code § 562A.34(1))
- What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month or longer periodic tenancy?
Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease with 30 days’ written notice. (Iowa Code § 562A.34(2)-(3))
- Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?
There is no statute in Iowa law covering this issue.
- When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?
- To inspect the premises.
- To make necessary or agreed to repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements.
- To supply necessary or agreed services.
- To show the unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors. (Iowa Code § 562A.19(1))
- What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?
The landlord must provide at least 24 hours’ notice and enter only at reasonable times. (Iowa Code § 562A.19(3))
- When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?
- In case of an emergency.
- Under court order.
- When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
- To make repairs to conditions materially affecting health and safety and caused by the tenants’ failure to comply with their duties (see Tenant’s Duties). (Iowa Code § 562A.19(4))
Iowa Landlord Duties (Iowa Code § 562A.15)
- At the commencement of the term, landlord shall deliver possession of the dwelling unit to tenant (Iowa Code § 562A.14).
- Landlords must comply with applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Landlords must make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.
- Landlords must keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
- Landlords must maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.
- Landlords must provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences, accessible to all tenants, for the central collection and removal of garbage, ashes, rubbish, and other waste and arrange for their removal.
- Landlords must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat. (Iowa Code § 562A.15)
Iowa Tenant Duties (Iowa Code § 562A.17)
- Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Tenants must keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits.
- Tenants must dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste cleanly and safely.
- Tenants must keep all plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits.
- Tenants must use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises in a reasonable manner;
- Tenants must not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly permit any person to do so.
- Tenants must act in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises. (Iowa Code § 562A.17)
- Tenants must occupy the dwelling unit only as a dwelling unit and use incidental thereto. The rental agreement may require the tenant to notify the landlord of an anticipated extended absence from the dwelling unit not later than the first day of the extended absence. (Iowa Code § 562A.20).
Required Landlord Disclosures
- Landlords are required to disclose in writing the names and business addresses of:
- the person authorized to manage the premises.
- the owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for service of process and receiving notices. (Iowa Code § 562A.13(1))
- Landlords must fully explain utility rates, charges, and services to the prospective tenant before the rental agreement is signed unless the tenant pays utilities directly to the utility company. (Iowa Code § 562A.13(4))
- Landlords must 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. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.13(6))
- Before renting pre-1978 property, 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. (16 CFR 1303, 42 U.S. Code § 4852d) . If the landlord fails to disclose all known lead paint hazards, the landlord can face fines of up to $19,507 for each violation (24 CFR 30.65).
Iowa Renters’ Rights
- What are Iowa renters’ rights if landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)
If a landlord’s failure to comply with the rental agreement or their legal duties materially affects health and safety, the renter may deliver a written notice to the landlord identifying the issue(s). If the landlord does not remedy the breach within 7 days of receiving notice, the lease will terminate. The entire security deposit must be refunded, and the tenant is also entitled to recover damages and obtain injunctive relief. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.21)
- Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?
Yes. If a landlord fails to supply running water, hot water, heat, sanitary facilities, or other essential services, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and may immediately procure reasonable amounts of the essential service(s) and deduct their actual and reasonable cost from the rent. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.23)
- What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Iowa renter’s rights?
Iowa law prohibits landlords from increasing rent, decreasing services, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession if the tenant has complained to a governmental agency, complained to the landlord about a breach of landlord’s duties, or if the tenant becomes a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.36)
Iowa Eviction Laws
- What are the reasons that landlords can evict tenants under Iowa eviction laws?
- Nonpayment of rent (Iowa Code §§ 562A.27(2))
- A material violation of lease terms / rental agreement (Iowa Code §§ 562A.27(1))
- A breach in the tenant’s duties materially affecting health and safety (Iowa Code §§ 562A.27(1))
- Illegal activity including physical assault or the threat of physical assault, illegal firearm activity, or illegal drug activity. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.27A)
- The tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration or termination of the term of the rental agreement (holdover tenancy). (Iowa Code §§ 562A.34(4))
- What notice do Iowa eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
- For evictions based violation of lease terms or health and safety violations, landlords must provide a 7-day notice to comply before providing the 3-day notice to quit, requiring 10 days total notice. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.27(1)); (Iowa Code §§ 648.3(1))
- For evictions based on nonpayment of rent, landlords must only provide 3-day notice to pay before starting the eviction process. They do not need to provide an additional 3-day notice to quit. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.27(2)) .
- 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. Landlords may not use self-help eviction methods in Iowa. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.33) .
- Are landlords permitted to recover damages from an evicted tenant?
Yes. Landlords may recover the actual damages sustained by the landlord and reasonable attorney fees. (Iowa Code §§ 562A.34(4))
COVID-19 Changes to Iowa Landlord-Tenant Laws
- The CDC’s national eviction ban was effective through August 26, 2021, and is no longer in place.
- The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is no longer effective.
- Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance program is no longer accepting applicants.
- Rent and Utility Assistance for residents of Polk County and the City of Des Moines remains in effect.
Squatter’s rights in Iowa
Under Homestead Act of 1862, individuals (squatters) can possess the property if they have lived there for a specific period of time, done so publicly, made repairs to the property, have deed to the property and have paid rent or taxes on this property.
Iowa has no specific laws recognizing squatters.
The squatter must have continuous possession of the property for 10 years to be able to claim adverse possession (Iowa Code § 614.17A).
- Legislative Guide to Landlord-Tenant Law – Iowa Legislative Services Agency
- Guide to Small Claims Court in Iowa
- Iowa District Courts
- Iowa Judicial Branch
- Iowa Attorney General
- Iowa Insurance Division
- Iowa Homeowner’s and Renter’s Insurance Shopper’s Guide
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Iowa
- Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau – Real Estate Sales & Brokers
Attorney Referral Services
Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations
- Iowa Association of Realtors
- Des Moines Area Association of Realtors
- Southwest Iowa Association of Realtors
- Waterloo-Cedar Falls Board of Realtors
- Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors
- Iowa City Area Association of Realtors
- Landlords of Blackhawk County
- Clinton Landlord Association
- Dubuque Area Landlords Association
- Fort Dodge Area Landlords Association
- Greater Iowa City Apartment Association
- Landlords of Linn County
- Siouxland Rental Association
- Southeast Iowa Property Owners
- Iowa Real Estate Investors Association