Most residential leases and rental agreements in Iowa require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Iowa landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Iowa law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under Iowa landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of two months' rent for the security deposit.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Iowa for returning a security deposit?
Under Iowa law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has surrendered the rental property to the landlord (that is, returned the keys and vacated the property).
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Iowa landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Iowa?
Yes. In addition to complying with Iowa laws on security deposit limits and how (and when) the deposit must be returned to tenants, landlords in Iowa must -- if the security deposit is kept in an interest-bearing account -- pay interest to the tenant if the tenancy lasted more than five years (the landlord keeps the interest earned during the first five years of the tenancy).
Where can I look up Iowa law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Iowa law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Iowa Code Annotated § 562A.12. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Iowa. For tips on looking up Iowa state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information on deposits in the tenant guide available at