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Read further to learn more about the residential lease termination process in Iowa and how many days notice are required in which situations.
What is a Lease Termination Notice?
A residential lease termination notice is delivered to a tenant when a landlord requests to end the lease agreement. The ultimate goal of this notice is to have the tenant move out of the property within the specific time frame indicated by Iowa law.
In Iowa, some owners or renters may desire to end their lease earlier than is prescribed in the original agreement. In addition, some of these same parties may have a month-to-month rental agreement that doesn’t have a preset term like a regular lease. In both of these situations, a landlord or lessee may opt to fill out a lease termination notice so that they can alert the other party of their intent to leave the premises vacant.
For those opting to utilize a month-to-month agreement, one of these documents is very advantageous because of the fact that the state of Iowa only requires a 30-day notice in order to break a lease. This one-month period makes it very easy to find a new lease, move onto the premises (if you’re the lessor), or find less troublesome tenants. For those looking to avoid legal liability when breaking a standard lease, one of these can be used when you’re alerting the lessor about the beginning of active military duty, if the lease is ending based on a breach of privacy, or if the premises present an unsafe living environment.
Iowa’s Statute 562A.34 clearly states that the previously mentioned 30 days is provided when terminating a lease. This provides enough of a “heads up” period for both parties to prepare for the premises becoming vacant. The notice for this can be served via certified mail or it can be directly delivered to the other party by hand or via a server.
How to Write a Lease Termination Notice
If either the lessee or the lessor is opting to create one of these documents, it’s imperative that they ensure that all of the Iowa state laws are followed to a tee. These lease termination notices are best used for leases that are month-to-month, which are sometimes referred to as at-will leases. In any case, it’s critical for the document to have all of the prerequisites covered so that it’s legal in the state of Iowa.
It’s relatively easy to write up one of these documents, even with the required inclusion of the information included in the original lease agreement. Just remember to use this originating document as a source for all of the information that will need to be included. Here’s what will be needed:
The Tenant or Landlord Information
As might be expected, the associated parties will need to be included in a legal document like this. This also means that any pertinent information that may help to identify each of these parties will be needed as well. When writing a document like this, the full names of both parties as they appeared on the original lease must be included. In addition, the name of the management company may be included here if there is one. If there are any roommates, then these should be mentioned here as well. Whether it’s the lessee or the lessor creating the document, the lease termination notice can start with, “To (recipient).”
For the sake of legality, the date that the lease will end should be included. As mentioned before, this will typically be 30 days after the receipt of the notice, but sometimes, the notice period can be even longer if needed.
The address and any identifying information for the property will also need to be included in the document. For clarity, the number of the unit, the county, the zip code, and any identifying side streets should be placed on the document.
Proof of Service
In Iowa, it’s critical that a document like this includes at least some form of proof of service. This means that there should be checkboxes indicating either the lessee or lessor for the sender as well as a space to indicate that the document was received by the other party. Also, if the letter was hand-delivered, a box indicating the delivery date should also be provided.
For completeness, some extra information can be provided. Here are a few things to add:
The new address: Since tenants will be moving out, information where security deposits may be sent should be provided.
Information for tenants needing extra time: If permitted, the lessor can grant an option for the lessee to extend the time before move-out. If this is the case, a section for requests for more time can be included.
Each of these documents should include both the signatures and printed names of all of the involved parties. Also, after the blank lines have been provided for this info, a date space should also be included so that the date of the signature can be provided.
Terminating a Standard Lease
If the type of lease isn’t an at-will lease, then it will have a fixed term that is a little more tricky to break for both parties. As previously covered, in order to break a fixed-term lease, there will have to be very specific situations, such as:
- The beginning of military service: Based on the War and National Defense Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C.A. § § 501, uniformed service members may legally break a lease. Still, tenants must provide a lease termination notice within 30 days of the intended vacancy.
- The property is proven to be unsafe for the tenant: If the property violates Iowa state code for health or safety, then the tenancy maybe truncated. Based on Iowa Code Ann. § 562A.23-.24, courts will deem the tenant as constructively evicted, which allows the renter to have no future requirement to pay the rent.
- There’s been a violation of the privacy rights of the tenant: For landlords that don’t grant at least 24 hours’ worth of notice before entering a unit, a tenant may opt to break the lease if there are repeat violations. This can also be done if the owner changes the locks. Once again, the tenant will be considered constructively evicted by the courts.
Remember, ending a lease can cause credit issues, difficulties renting in the future, and a requirement for the renter to pay back the remaining rental value. For this reason, in the case of a fixed-term lease, it may be best to wait out the remainder of the lease term before terminating.