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Read further to learn more about month-to-month residential lease agreements in Iowa, such as what disclosures are required and what else should be included.
What is a Month-to-Month Residential Lease Agreement?
The month-to-month residential lease is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant for one month of residency. This type of lease is automatically renewed each month unless terminated by the landlord or tenant in accordance with state regulations.
When looking to rent, the standard method of renting in the state of Iowa is to enter into a six-month or a year lease. These leases are useful in some situations, but both parties are bound to the period established in the lease terms. Sometimes, when a full lease can feel too restrictive, a landlord and his prospective tenant can opt to engage in a month-to-month lease, which by many is considered to fairly advantageous lease for both parties.
With one of these leases, a legal framework is created that doesn’t have a specific term, and as a result, both parties can exit the lease in an at-will manner, which is why these are often referred to as “at-will leases.” Every month, the lease effectively ends, and at the start of the next month, it automatically renews, which is why a month-to-month lease can have a far greater lifespan than a fixed-term lease, despite being sometimes called “short term rentals.”
When either party wants to end the lease, they can do so, but the state of Iowa does have rules for this. For instance, a lease termination notice should be furnished by either of the parties, and Iowa law § 562A.34 states that written notice must be furnished within 30 days of the next time rent is due to be paid. This way, the landlord has time to find a new lessee, and the renter has time to find a new place to dwell.
The freedom granted by this type of lease is very useful for both parties. For the landlord, the price of rent can be negotiated frequently, and for the renter, this allows them a period in which to potentially find a better place to dwell during periods of market scarcity.
Creating a Month-to-Month Residential Lease Agreement in Iowa
To write one of these agreements, it’s critical that the right information is provided so that both parties are protected. This will mean that a high level of detail and organization will need to be present in the final document. For example, it’s essential that rules for things like the maintenance of the property and the due date of rent payments are included as well as rules for when the month-to-month lease renews. Additionally, info about the security deposits can also be included here. Here’s a walkthrough about the information that should be added:
Information about the Affected Parties
In most situations, a lease agreement of this type involves two parties: the lessor and the lessee. The first thing that should be cataloged here is the names of these two parties. To do this, a blank space can be provided, and inside this space, the full name including the middle initials or full middle names of both parties can be written down. Additionally, the date can also be placed here.
Important Property Information
Since the unit is the primary subject of the month-to-month lease agreement, it’s critical that information about the property be included for the sake of legality and description. In this section, include the complete address of the property, which will also highlight aspects like side streets, unit numbers, counties, and lot locations. After this is added, the monthly rent value should also be added as well as when the lease will terminate. Since this is a month-to-month agreement, this usually means that the rent will terminate at the end of the first month and renew in perpetuity for every month thereafter until the landlord or tenant decides to end it. The month-to-month nature of the lease will need to be clearly established here.
Since this type of rental is an at-will rental, it’s imperative that rent is paid promptly and for the correct amount. Despite the fact that the rent value was highlighted in the previous section, other rent payment details will also need to be demarcated. This means that the month-to-month agreement should state where to pay the monthly rent. This should be clearly stated because some management companies or landlords may have special payment locations or addresses where rent must be sent on a monthly basis. Also, the costs of late fees for rent and how these increase over time should be accounted for here as well.
After this information is included, if there’s a security deposit for the unit, the dollar amount should be included in this section. In addition, the period in which the security deposit is to be returned should be included and the rules of using the security deposit to pay for damages should be established here. In some cases, leases may establish that the deposit may be used to pay for unpaid utilities or the costs associated with specific breaches to the lease terms.
Sometimes, more than one occupant may use a month-to-month lease in a unit. No matter the number of tenants that reside in a unit, it’s a good idea to record their details. In this section, the names of the month-to-month lessees and sub-lessees will need to be clearly recorded. For shared dwellings, the maximum amount of occupants can also be noted.
For those properties that allow pets, the details of the pets dwelling in the unit should be marked down on the month-to-month lease. If the landlord wants to charge a pet fee, then this section should mention the amount that will need to be paid at one time or a monthly basis for having a pet. Typically, this fee can be used to fix any damage that may be the result of pet ownership once the unit is vacant.
In some dwellings, things like electricity or heating may be paid by the landlord as a means of making the unit appear more attractive. If a landlord is paying part of the utilities, then they need to be outlined here. If there are shared utilities, then this section should also catalog the going utility rate for the service as well as the tenant’s share of the costs.
Unfortunately, sometimes tenants that engage in month-to-month tenancies leave without the state-prescribed 30-day warning. An abandonment clause sets up a guide for landlords to know when it’s acceptable to begin shopping the unit around for new tenants. The exact number of days before a property can be considered abandoned by a tenant should be explicitly stated.
In Iowa, some properties include parking spaces for those tenants that own vehicles. For the sake of organization, many properties even provide assigned spaces for month-to-month tenants. For the purposes of detail, the assigned parking spot should be included here. The make and model of the tenant’s vehicle can also be marked in this section.
It’s important to state the expectations for each tenant, especially for those entering at-will leases so that there is no confusion. For example, in the state of Iowa, many properties come pre-furnished, and when this is the case, many tenants that dwell in a property for long terms may forget what came with the apartment and what they brought in over time. For this reason, the lease should explicitly state what comes with the unit. This can include tables, refrigerators, desks, light fixtures, and standard furniture. If these items are removed when a tenant vacates, the financial costs of this should also be made evident in the lease.
Additionally, policies on garbage removal should be stated. All landlords will find that keeping the property in workable shape is a great way to get more tenants, and they will need the cooperation of all tenants to keep the place in a respectable condition. To ensure this, the lease should ensure that tenants understand that the property needs to be kept up, and materials like excess trash should be kept out of the common areas. Additionally, the times when garbage is to be picked up will need to be included somewhere in the lease as well.
Finally, quiet times will also need to be established so that the tenants in a property all can have peaceful nights. This means that the lease should expressly forbid loud parties, the movement of furniture, or unruly guests after a preset time at night.
Here are some items that must be disclosed in the state of Iowa:
- Lead-Based Paint: For those properties that predate the year 1978, federal and Iowa law dictates that the landlord must disclose whether lead-based paint was used. Lead-based paint is extremely detrimental to children and pregnant women. A warning must clearly be presented in the lease, and the landlord must also provide a copy of the EPA pamphlet: “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.”
- Owner and Manager: Per Iowan state law, before the tenant occupies the premises, the landlord has to provide the tenant with the name and address of any property managers as well as the owner of the property.
Finally, at the base of the document, the names of all involved parties must be signed. In addition to this, a space for the printed versions of these names as well as for the date of signing will need to be provided.