Iowa Eviction Process

Iowa Eviction Process

Last Updated: August 18, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

Steps of the eviction process in Iowa:

  1. Landlord serves tenant written notice.
  2. Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
  3. Court serves tenant with summons & complaint.
  4. Court holds hearing and issues judgment.
  5. Writ of possession is issued.
  6. Possession of property to landlord.

Evicting a tenant in Iowa can take around three to eight weeks, depending on the reason for the eviction. If tenants file an appeal, the process could take longer.

Questions? To chat with an Iowa eviction attorney, click here

Grounds for an Eviction in Iowa

In Iowa, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms, material health/safety violations, and illegal activity. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.

Grounds Notice Period Curable?
Nonpayment of Rent 3 Days Yes
End of / No Lease 30 Days No
Lease/Material Health/ Safety Violation  ~7 Days Maybe
Illegal Activity 3 Days No

Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent

In Iowa, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 3 days’  notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Iowa the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days) or exceptions for weekends or court-observed holidays.

Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.

Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease

In Iowa, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (30 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Eviction for Violation of Lease Terms, Material Health, and Safety

In Iowa, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease, violating material health and safety codes, or not upholding their responsibilities under Iowa landlord-tenant law. The tenant is allowed to fix (“cure”) all lease, health, and safety violations.

Lease Violation

If a lease violation is committed or the tenant does not uphold their responsibility under Iowa law, the landlord must give a 7 days’ notice to cure the issue. If the tenant does not fix the lease violation issue, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Tenant responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the unit in a safe condition and free form hazard.
  • Abiding by cleanliness standards.
  • Making minor repairs and maintenance.
  • Complying with any building or hosing codes that affect health and safety.
  • Keeping all plumbing fixtures clean.
  • Using any facility or appliance in a reasonable manner.
  • Not deliberately or negligently destroying any part of the dwelling unit or allow others to do so.
  • Not disturbing a neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises.

Additionally, if the tenant corrects the lease violation but commits the same lease violation within a six-month period, the landlord may terminate the tenancy with a 7 days’ notice to move out.

Health/Safety Violation

If a health or safety violation is committed, the landlord must give a 7 days’ notice to cure the issue. If the tenant has not corrected the violation after those 7 days, the landlord can terminate the tenancy and issue a final 3 days’ notice to move out.

Examples of material health and safety violations could include:

  • Letting trash pile up inside the rental unit.
  • Providing a harbor for rodents or bugs.
  • Damaging the electrical wiring in the rental unit.

If the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Eviction for Illegal Activity

In Iowa, a landlord can evict a tenant for illegal activity. To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving 3 days’ notice to move out. The tenant is not allowed to fix (“cure”) illegal activity.

In Iowa, illegal activity includes:

  • Physical assault/threat of physical assault.
  • Illegal use of firearm/other weapons.
  • Possession of illegal firearm.
  • Threat to illegally use a firearm.
  • Possession of a controlled substance.

Tenants may also be evicted if their guests or other occupants in the rental unit are involved in illegal activity, even if the tenant wasn’t specifically involved in the activity. This is known as “clear and present danger.”

Committing any of the above illegal activities within 1,000 feet of the rental unit can result in an eviction.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

warning

Illegal Evictions in Iowa

In Iowa, any of the below is illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant the cost of damages incurred as a result of the actions as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees.

“Self-Help” Evictions

No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:

  • Changing the locks.
  • Shutting off utilities.
  • Removing tenant belongings.

A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:

  • Complaining to the landlord or a governmental agency about a building or housing code violations affecting the tenant’s health and safety.
  • Joining or organizing a tenant’s union or similar organization.

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant

A landlord can begin the eviction process in Iowa by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person.
  2. Leaving a copy with anyone over the age of 18 at the rental unit.
  3. Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit AND mailing a copy via both first class and certified mail.

It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice. 

3-Day Notice to Pay

If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Iowa, the landlord can serve them a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 3 days (not counting weekends or legal holidays) to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.

30-Day Notice to Quit

For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Iowa, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.

However, for tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Amount
Week-to-Week 10 Days
Month-to-Month 30 Days
Quarter-to-Quarter 30 Days
Year-to-Year 30 Days

7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate

In Iowa, if a tenant commits a lease violation, health violation or a safety violation the landlord can serve them a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to fix the issue or move out.

If that 7-day period elapses and the violation is not fixed, the landlord must then serve a final 3-Day Notice to Quit.

7-Day Notice to Quit

In Iowa, if a tenant corrects a lease violation, but commits the same violation within a six-month period, the landlord must give a 7-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to move out.

3-Day Notice to Quit

In Iowa, if a tenant commits illegal activity or has not corrected the health or safety issue after the first notice, the landlord must give a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 3 calendar days to move out.

Questions? To chat with an Iowa eviction attorney, click here

Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court

As the next step in the eviction process, Iowa landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court. In the state of Iowa, this costs around $95 in filing fees. Some counties such as Linn County or Scott County provide information on how evictions work specifically in that county.

Eviction Summons Complaint Served   on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 3: Court Serves Tenant with Summons & Complaint

The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by an individual who isn’t part of the eviction at least three days prior to the eviction hearing, through one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person.
  2. Leaving a copy with anyone over the age of 18 at the rental unit.
  3. Leaving a copy with the owner/proprietor of the rental unit.
  4. Leaving a copy with the tenant’s family member.
  5. Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit AND mailing a copy via both first class and certified mail.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comThree days. The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least three days prior to the hearing date.

Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 4: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment

The eviction hearing must be held 8 days after the complaint is filed with the court, except if the landlord requests for a later hearing date and the hearing date shall be no more than 15 days from the date of filing.

Tenants are not required to file a written response to the complaint in order to attend the eviction hearing; however, if the tenant fails to appear for the hearing, the judge will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, meaning the tenant will have to move out.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord either with a default judgment or at an eviction hearing, a writ of execution will be issued, and the eviction process shall proceed.

Tenants who want to appeal must do so within 20 days of the date the judgment is issued, or the eviction process will continue.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com 8-15 days. The eviction hearing must be held within 8-15 days of the date the complaint was filed with the court.

Eviction Writ of Execution on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 5: Writ of Execution Is Issued

The writ of execution is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before law enforcement officials return to the property to forcibly remove the tenant.

If the court has ruled in the landlord’s favor, a writ of execution will be issued at the hearing, stating that the tenant must move out within three days of the date of the judgment for the landlord, or the tenant will be forcibly evicted.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com Immediately. The writ may be issued at the time the judgment in favor of the landlord is issued.

Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 6: Possession of Property is Returned

Tenants will be forcibly removed from the rental unit within three days of the date the judgment was issued in favor of the landlord if they have not moved out before then.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com~3 days. The tenant has 3 days from the date the judgment was issued in favor of the landlord to move out of the rental unit.

Iowa Eviction Process Timeline

In Iowa, an eviction can be completed in 3 to 8 weeks but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.

Below are the parts of the Iowa eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.

Step Estimated Time
Initial Notice Period 3-30 Calendar Days
Court Issuing Summons 3 Business Days
Court Serving Summons 3 Business Days
Tenant Response Period Not Required
Court Ruling 8-15 Business Days
Court Serving Writ of Possession Immediately
Final Notice Period 3 Days
Questions? To chat with an Iowa eviction attorney, click here

Flowchart of Iowa Eviction Process

Iowa Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

For additional questions about the eviction process in Iowa, please refer to the official legislation, Iowa Code §526A, §648, and the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 1.302 and 1.305, for more information.

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