Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Iowa and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for Iowa
- Grounds for Eviction: Failing to pay rent, lease agreement violations & creating clear danger
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 3-Day Notice to Pay, after which Forcible Entry & Detainer suit may be filed
- Notice Required for Eviction without Cause: 30-Day Notice to Terminate for month-to-month tenants
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 7-Day Notice to Correct
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 3 days, via Notice to Quit (Clear and Present Danger)
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Iowa?
In the state or Iowa, as in all states, there is a specific process that must be followed to legally evict a tenant. Although the process is faster in this state than in many others when the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord is legally required to provide a
3-Day Notice to Pay. As the eviction is a multi-step legal process, the length of time required to evict a tenant may be both lengthy and costly.
The amount of time required to evict a tenant is unpredictable and will be more time consuming with a tenant who is willing to fight the process.
Reasons for Eviction in Iowa
The state of Iowa has established a set of legally valid reasons for evicting a tenant. These reasons include:
- Failing to pay rent
- Violation of a lease or rental agreement
- Creating a clear danger
A tenant is said to create a clear danger when:
- he/she acts aggressively or issues threats toward others on the rental property
- he/she is in possession of illegal firearms
- he/she is in possession of illegal drugs
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
When a tenant fails to pay rent when due in the state of Iowa, the landlord is required to provide a written
3-day Notice to Pay (I.C.A. 562A.27(2)). This notice may be issued the day after rent is due and must be served through:
- Personal delivery
- Being served by a process server
- Being sent through certified mail
- Being posted on the main entrance to the rental unit so long as the notice is also sent by mail.
If the notice is delivered by mail, the Iowa court system will assume that the notice took four days from mailing for the tenant to receive it. Therefore, the amount of time the tenant has to deal with the notice does not start until four days after the mailing date.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent in full the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court. If the landlord wishes to accept partial payment for the rent, he/she may do so without negating movement made toward the eviction. He/she may provide a written grace period with the understanding that if the remainder of the amount due isn’t paid by the end of the grace period, the eviction process will proceed.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
An Iowa landlord may only proceed with an eviction without cause (when the rent is paid on time and there is no violation of terms of the lease or rental agreement) when there is no written lease with a specified end date. When the landlord has an “at-will” month-to-month tenant, he/she is required to provide a 30-Day Notice to Terminate before taking any eviction action.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
When there is a violation of the lease or rental agreement, Iowa law requires that the landlord provide the tenant with a written 7-Day Notice to correct the issue (I.C.A. 562A.27(1)). If the tenant fails to correct the issue within the seven days provided, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court. If this is the second violation within a six-month period of time, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process without providing the tenant with the opportunity to correct the issue.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
In Iowa, there is a specific notice designed to facilitate a landlord’s removal of a tenant who is participating in illegal activity. When a tenant creates a “clear and present danger,” the landlord may serve him/her with a 3-Day Notice to Quit (Clear and Present Danger) (I.C.A. 562A.27A).
Note the behavior in question must have occurred within 1000 feet of the rental property.
This notice allows the landlord to terminate the rental agreement and demand possession of the rental property. Reasons a landlord may choose this notice include:
- Illegal possession, use, or threat of a firearm
- Physical assault of another individual
- Possession of illegal drugs
If the tenant remains on the rental property beyond the time allowed on the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer with the court.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?
When renting on a month-to-month basis with no specified end date, an Iowa landlord is required to provide his/her tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Terminate (I.C.A. 562A.34(3)) unless there is cause to end the arrangement. When there is cause to terminate the rental agreement, the landlord may proceed as he/she would with the notices appropriate to the given situation.
If the tenant fails to move by the end of the 30-Day Notice to Terminate, the landlord may proceed by issuing a written 3-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant continues to remain on the rental property after the date indicated on the 3-Day Notice to Quit, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Iowa?
In the state of Iowa, it is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant because of his/her race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, nation of origin, or disability status. It is also illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant for having complained to a government agency about issues related to safety or health issues, complaining to the landlord about a possible violation, or having organized or joined a tenant union within the past year.
Once a Forcible Entry and Detainer Suit is Filed
The landlord may file a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the clerk of court once the tenant has failed to comply with a legally served notice. A hearing will soon be scheduled after the filing and may proceed as quickly as three days after the tenant is served. If the tenant fails to appear at the hearing, the court will make a default ruling in favor of the landlord.
Once Eviction Occurs
If the court rules in favor of the landlord, he/she must wait three days before obtaining a Writ of Removal from the court. Once a writ is obtained, the sheriff will facilitate the removal of the tenant and his/her property. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, he/she may also file for a separate financial hearing or seek damages through small claims court. The tenant will be allowed 20 days to respond to the filing for damages. If the tenant fails to respond to this filing, the court may make a default judgement in favor of the landlord.