Warranty of Habitability in Iowa

Last Updated: April 24, 2023 by Elizabeth Souza

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.

Quick Facts Answer
Landlord Responsibilities Hot/Cold Water, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Sanitation Facilities, Smoke Detector, Trash Can
Time Limit for Repairs 7 Days
Tenant Recourse Options
  • Withhold Rent: No
  • Repair & Deduct: Yes

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?
Single family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs No
RV parks Not specifically addressed
Mobile home parks Not specifically addressed
Condos Only if person living in condo is renting
Hotels/Motels No

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 Yes
Provide a mailbox. No
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack. Not specifically addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances. No
Provide working carbon monoxide detector. Yes
Provide a working washer/dryer. No

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Environmental Hazards

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.

Repairs, Recourse & Retaliation in Iowa

If a rental property is in violation of the implied warranty of habitability in Iowa, state laws outline how the repair process works, what tenants can do if repairs aren’t made, and how tenants are protected against retaliating landlords.

Requesting Repairs in Iowa

Iowa tenants must request repairs by giving the landlord written notice of the issue that needs fixing. To reserve the relevant legal options, the tenant must also state actions they might take if the landlord does not make timely repairs, such as canceling the lease altogether.

An example of language a tenant might use to state these intentions is: “If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter may exercise his right to cancel the rental agreement seven or more days from today.

Renter’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Iowa

Renters in Iowa have the right to repairs for issues that affect health and safety, unless they caused the issue themselves. The landlord gets seven days after proper written notice to fix the issue.

If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter can end the rental agreement, repair and deduct themselves, or ask a court to order repairs or compensation. However, renters are not allowed to unilaterally withhold rent. Read More

Landlord Retaliation in Iowa

It’s illegal for Iowa landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past year:

  • Complaining to the landlord or government about habitability of the premises.
  • Participating in a tenant organization.

There’s an exception in Iowa law for non-retaliatory, good-faith motivations. For example, a proportionate increase in rent following an increase in property tax isn’t retaliation.

Tenant can respond to retaliation by suing for quiet enjoyment of the property, and can recover attorney fees, plus expenses associated with the retaliation.