The Eviction Process in Iowa: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers

An overview of Iowa eviction rules, forms, and procedures.

To evict a tenant in Iowa, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant with the court, following specific rules and procedures set forth by Iowa law. If the landlord does not follow all the state rules when evicting the tenant, the eviction may not be valid.

This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in Iowa.

Notice for Termination With Cause

The first step in the eviction process is for the landlord to terminate the tenancy. However, the landlord can only do this if the landlord has legal cause to evict the tenant. Iowa law defines legal cause as failing to pay rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or creating a danger to the landlord, other tenants, or close neighbors. To terminate the tenancy, the landlord must send the tenant written notice. The type of notice required will depend on the reason for the eviction.

  • Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent: If the tenant fails to pay rent when it is due, the landlord can give the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent. The notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has three days to pay rent or the landlord will terminate the tenancy and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. If the tenant pays rent during the three-day time period, then the landlord must not proceed with the eviction (seeIowa Code Ann. § 562A.27(2)). Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent in Iowa has more information.
  • Seven-Day Notice to Remedy: If the tenant violates the lease or rental agreement, the landlord can give the tenant a seven-day notice to remedy the violation. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has seven days to fix the violation or the landlord will terminate the tenancy and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. If the tenant fixes the violation within seven days, then the landlord must not proceed with the eviction. If the tenant commits the same lease violation within six months, then the landlord can give the tenant another seven-day notice. This time, the landlord does not need to allow the tenant any time to fix the violation. The landlord can go straight to court at the end of the seven days and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Iowa Code Ann. § 562A.27(1)).
  • Three-Day Unconditional Quit Notice: If the tenant has created a danger to the landlord, other tenants, or close neighbors (this includes discharging a firearm or possessing or using illegal drugs), then the landlord can give the tenant a three-day unconditional quit notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord has terminated the tenancy and the tenant must move out of the rental unit within three days or the landlord will file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit within three days, then the landlord can bring an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Iowa Code Ann. § 562A.27A).

Notice for Termination Without Cause

If a landlord wants to end a tenancy with a tenant but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must wait until the tenancy has ended before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice to move.

Month-to-Month Tenancy

If the landlord wishes to end a month-to-month tenancy but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord can give the tenant a written 30-day notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenancy will be ending in 30 days and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. If the tenant does not move by the end of 30 days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Iowa Code Ann. § 562A.34).Iowa Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.

Fixed-Term Lease

If the landlord wishes to end a fixed-term lease but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must wait until the term has ended before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord does not need to give the tenant written notice to move, unless the lease specifically requires the landlord to do so.

Tenant Eviction Defenses

Even though a landlord may have legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant may decide to defend against the eviction. The tenant may have a legal defense, such as the landlord failing to maintain the premises or the landlord discriminating against the tenant. The tenant’s decision to defend against the eviction could increase the costs of the lawsuit or allow the tenant more time to remain in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Iowa has more information on this topic.

Removal of the Tenant

A landlord must never try to force a tenant to move out of a rental unit. Iowa law has made this illegal, and the tenant can sue the landlord for trying. Even after the landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against the tenant, the only person authorized to remove the tenant from the rental unit is a law enforcement officer with a court order. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Iowa has more information on this topic.

After the tenant has been evicted, the landlord may find that the tenant has left behind personal belongings. Unlike most states, Iowa does not have rules for what landlords should do with abandoned property. If the property has value (either monetary or sentimental), then the best practice for the landlord is to take inventory of the property and store it in a safe location. Then, the landlord should try to contact the tenant and allow the tenant reasonable time to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property in a reasonable amount of time, then the landlord can dispose of the property (through a sale or other legal means). Handling a Tenant’s Abandoned Property in Iowa has more information for landlords in this situation.

Rationale for the Rules

Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Iowa law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.

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