Iowa HOA Laws

Iowa HOA Laws

Last Updated: June 16, 2023 by Corrin Swintosky

In Iowa, many planned communities are managed by a homeowners association (HOA). The laws governing HOAs in Iowa are set forth by various local and state regulations, as well as by each individual HOA’s governing documents.

Who Regulates HOAs in Iowa?

There is no state statute that specifically governs HOAs in Iowa. Most HOAs are registered as nonprofit corporations. The state has a Revised Iowa NonProfit Corporation Act that regulates these HOAs. This act governs all corporations filed in the State of Iowa.

Otherwise, governing documents regulate an HOA. Although every HOA is different, the governing documents typically include: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and other rules and regulations.

HOAs in Iowa may be subject to applicable federal laws such as:

HOAs may be subject to certain state laws such as:

How to Find HOA Regulations in Iowa

HOA governing documents are not public records in Iowa. The bylaws are not filed with any government agency and remain with the HOA. An HOA is required to file its Articles of Incorporation and other reports with the Iowa Secretary of State.

Anyone can look up the HOA’s current filings on the Business Entities Search website. Some records can be viewed online for free. Others may require a person to request copies for a fee from the agency.

HOA Powers in Iowa

In Iowa, HOAs have the power to:

  • Collect payments for common assessments
  • Levy reasonable fines
  • Collect charges for common elements

Additionally, HOA governing documents can grant further powers such as restrictions on membership, exterior paint colors, fencing, and parking requirements.

Can an HOA Impose Fines on a Homeowner in Iowa?

In Iowa, HOAs can impose fines on a homeowner for violating its rules. The notice requirements, types of fines, and amount of the fines can be found in the HOA’s governing documents.

An HOA cannot fine a homeowner for (or generally prohibit) any of the following:

  • Installing solar collectors
  • Installing satellite antennas and dishes
  • Displaying the American flag so long as the flag is displayed in a manner consistent with federal flag display law

An HOA’s governing documents may include reasonable rules and regulations regarding the placement and manner of display of the American flag, solar panels, and satellite dishes and antennas.

Can an HOA Take a Homeowner’s House in Iowa?

There is no provision that governs an HOA’s ability to take a homeowner’s house in Iowa. Typically, HOAs are able to foreclose on a house when the owner fails to pay dues and assessments. This can result in the HOA imposing a lien on the property.

There are two ways an HOA can foreclose on a home:

  • Judicial Foreclosure. The HOA files a lawsuit against the homeowner to obtain a court order granting permission to sell the home and settle the HOA lien.
  • Nonjudicial Foreclosure. The HOA would not go through state court but simply follow specific procedures listed in their governing documents.

There is also no provision regarding if an HOA can evict a homeowner or tenant. If an HOA directly leases a residence to a tenant, they may be able to evict the tenant. For example, an HOA may be able to evict a tenant if the lease was not properly authorized by the HOA.

In addition, the HOA may have other powers or restrictions regarding rental properties in its governing documents.

Can an HOA Enter a Homeowner’s Property in Iowa?

In Iowa, there is no state provision that governs HOAs entering a homeowner’s property. Clauses of if, when, and how an HOA can enter a homeowner’s house will be listed in its governing documents.

Typically, an HOA may be able to enter a homeowner’s property in case of emergency, maintenance, or violation of any rules or regulations.

Except in the case of an emergency, reasonable notice should be provided to the homeowner before the HOA is to enter the property. A reasonable timeline can range depending on the reason for entry between three days and a couple of weeks.

Where Do Homeowners File Complaints Against Their HOA in Iowa?

The venue for filing a Complaint against an HOA in Iowa depends on the complaint.

For complaints concerning HOA fees, a homeowner can file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, homeowners may also file in state, northern federal, or southern federal court within one year of the violation date.

If a homeowner feels they are a victim of housing discrimination, they can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the U.S. Department of Urban Housing, or file a private lawsuit in Iowa state, northern federal, or southern federal court.

Otherwise, a homeowner with any other complaints can bring a claim in state court in the appropriate county.

Joining and Leaving an HOA in Iowa

In Iowa, there is no state provision on joining or leaving an HOA. These clauses are found in the HOA’s governing documents. Documents explaining the HOA’s membership rules should be presented at the closing for a new owner’s home purchase.

Usually, there are two types of HOAs that regulate joining and leaving clauses:

  • Mandatory HOAs. When a person buys a home, they automatically become a member required to abide by any HOA rules listed in the governing documents. This usually includes that a homeowner is not able to leave the HOA freely.
  • Voluntary HOAs. When a person buys a home, membership is a choice for each homeowner. If they choose to become a member, they may leave at any time by stopping their payments with the HOA.

To leave a mandatory HOA, a homeowner can sell their house or try to petition the court to have their home removed. However, there is no guarantee the petition will be granted.

How to Dissolve an HOA in Iowa

The process for dissolution of an HOA in Iowa may be set forth in the HOA’s governing documents. If it is not, HOA members must come to a vote of at least ⅔ to approve the dissolution.

If dissolution gets authorized, an Articles of Dissolution must be filed with the Iowa Secretary of State. Upon filing, the HOA is considered fully dissolved.