In Iowa, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by Iowa Stat. § 562.17. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
Applicable Dwelling Types in Iowa
The implied warranty of habitability in Iowa does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Condos||Only if person living in condo is renting|
A landlord must keep all common areas of the premises in a safe and clean condition.
Landlord Responsibilities in Iowa
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Iowa, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not specifically addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Yes|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Yes|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Yes|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Not specifically addressed|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not specifically addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide a mailbox.||No|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||Yes, if required|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||Yes, if required|
If a rental property is located on a site that was contaminated by pollutants or was a former hazardous waste dump site per the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Superfund” list, landlords are required to disclose that fact to prospective tenants.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Iowa
If tenants request repairs, they must put their request in writing.
- Sending Notice – The landlord is given seven days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice. Notice must be given via regular or certified mail or by delivering it in person. If the method of delivery is via mail, the notice must be served 11 days before rent is due.
- Landlord Access – Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants 24 hours’ notice unless:
- The tenant no longer occupies the property.
- It’s an emergency.
- There’s a court order granting a landlord access.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Iowa
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Iowa landlord tenant law does not outright state that a tenant in Iowa has the ability to withhold rent in response to habitability issues.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants have the right to perform some of the landlord’s duties, including specified repairs, remodeling, maintenance, or alterations themselves and deduct a reasonable amount for the repair from the following month’s rent. There must be an agreement in writing between the tenant and landlord before proceeding with any issues.
- Lawsuit – If a landlord intentionally or negligently fails to provide heat, water, electricity, and/or other “essentials,” tenants are allowed to pursue legal action to recover damages.
- Reporting to Public Officials – A tenant can contact the housing inspector or any government authority if a landlord fails to make necessary repairs and maintain the house or apartment.
Landlord Retaliation in Iowa
Landlords may not retaliate by increasing rent, decreasing services, by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession against a tenant for exercising their right to:
- Complain to a governmental agency.
- Complain to the landlord for any habitability issue.
- Organize or become a member of a tenants’ union or similar organization.
Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Iowa law. A landlord may not retaliate against the tenant within one year of the complaint.