Iowa Eviction Process

Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Iowa can take around 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the reason for the eviction. If tenants file an appeal, the process could take longer (read more).

Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Iowa.

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Landlords in Iowa can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, notice must be served giving the tenant the option to pay rent in order to avoid eviction.
  2. Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue before moving forward with the eviction process.
  3. No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy as long as proper notice is given.
  4. Material Health / Safety Violation – If the tenant violates a health, building, safety, or housing code, they must be given the opportunity to fix (“cure”) the issue before the eviction process proceeds further.
  5. Illegal Activity – If a tenant is engaged in illegal activity, landlords must provide written notice before proceeding with the eviction process.
NOTES
  • Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
  • Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property didn’t have the landlord’s permission when initially moving in, doesn’t have a lease/verbal agreement, and has no history of paying rent, then a landlord/tenant relationship may not be established. As a result, no prior written notice is required to begin an eviction action (read more).

Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.

Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent

A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.

According to Iowa law, rent is considered late the day after it’s due; grace periods (if any) are addressed in the lease/rental agreement.

Once rent is past due, the landlord must provide tenants with a 3-Day Notice to Pay if the landlord wants to file an eviction action with the court. This notice gives the tenant the option to pay the past due amount in full within 3 days in order to avoid eviction.

If the tenant does not pay the rent due by the end of the notice period and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement

A tenant can be evicted in Iowa if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease/rental agreement.

Iowa landlords must allow tenants to correct a lease violation by providing tenants with a 7-Day Notice to Comply, giving tenants 7 days to correct the issue in order to avoid eviction.

Typical lease violations under this category could include things like violating a no-smoking policy, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.

If the tenant has not corrected the issue by the deadline in the notice to comply, the landlord must give an additional notice, a 3-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant 3 days to move out of the rental unit.

Note that illegal activity and material health/safety violations are not included in this category.

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

Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease

In the state of Iowa, if tenants “hold over,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.

Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.

The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.

  • Week-to-week – If rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Month-to-month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Longer than month-to-month – If the tenancy is for any period greater than month-to-month, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.

If the tenant remains on the rental property after the first notice period expires, the landlord must give an additional notice, a 3-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant 3 days to move out of the rental unit.

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

Eviction Process for Material Health / Safety Violation

A tenant can be evicted in Iowa if they violate a health, building, safety, or housing code. In these instances, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Comply, giving the tenant 7 days to correct the issue in order to avoid eviction.

Examples of material health/safety violations could include letting trash pile up inside the rental unit, providing a harbor for rodents or bugs, or even things like damaging the electrical wiring in the rental unit.

If the tenant has not corrected the issue by the deadline in the notice to comply, the landlord must give an additional notice, a 3-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant 3 days to move out of the rental unit.

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

Eviction Process for Illegal Activity

Tenants of a rental unit who are involved in illegal activity must be given 3 days’ written notice before the landlord can proceed with an eviction action.

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.

In Iowa, illegal activity includes :

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

Note that committing any of the above within 1,000 feet of the rental unit will also get the tenant evicted.

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

Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served

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 $85 in filing fees.

The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by anyone who isn’t part of the case at least 3 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 regular (first class) and certified mail

3 days. The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least 3 days prior to the hearing date.

Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment

The eviction hearing must be held 8-15 days after the complaint is filed with the court.

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 will 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.

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

Step 4: 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 3 days of the date of the judgment for the landlord, or the tenant will be forcibly evicted.

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

Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

Tenants will be forcibly removed from the rental unit within 3 days of the date the judgment was issued in favor of the landlord if they have not moved out before then.

~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

Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Iowa. With that being said, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.

  1. Initial Notice Period – between 3 and 30 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
  2. Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – 3 days prior to the hearing.
  3. Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – 8-15 days after the complaint was filed.
  4. Issuance of Writ of Execution – Immediately.
  5. Return of Possession – within 3 days of the date the judgment was issued in favor of the landlord.

Flowchart of Iowa Eviction Process

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.