Prepare to learn insights and the eviction process from both sides of the law. We will approch this from the eyes of the tenant, then the landlord. We breakdown in detail, the eviction process in Iowa, plus learn a Huge Secret to avoiding it all.
Tenants Facing Eviction
There are many people who don’t know what to do when their landlord threatens to evict them. Landlord-tenant law protects tenants’ rights, as well as landlords’. Like otcan be complicated, like other legal topics. However, most of the basic rules and steps are pretty straightforward. This article examines Iowa eviction law.
Self-help evictions = BAD
The court procedure to remove a tenant from their rental is called a “forcible entry and detainer,” but it’s more commonly known as an eviction. The landlord must take a series of very specific steps before this can happen. They have to provide sufficient proof that the space belongs to them. During the court hearing, the landlord and tenant both get to provide their perspective on the issue. The the judge evaluates both. If the right notice isn’t supplied, then they risk having the case dismissed. This may allow the tenants to stay because of this mistake. If the Landlord wins, then a sheriff’s deputy or someone hired by them will remove tenant’s possessions. Courtesy notices that tell tenants when they are coming may be provided by some sheriffs, but not all.
Eviction Process in Iowa: Grounds to evict
The majority of evictions are based on one of three “grounds” (allegations).
Landlords must provide notice before filing eviction cases
Before filing an eviction case, landlords must nearly always give a tenant written notice. The court may throw out the case at the hearing if a landlord files an eviction without giving adequate notice to the tenant. If that happens, the landlord may give a different notice, and try again.
Each case requires a different notice depending on the reasons for the eviction. There are six common types of notices:
- Nonpayment of rent requires a 3-day notice
- “Clear and present danger” notice of three days
- Violations of the lease must be cured within 7 days
- No right to cure 7-day notice of lease termination
- Termination notice of 30 days
- Three-day notice of resignation
- Rent Nonpayment Notice of 3 Days
Landlords can give written notice to tenants if they fail to pay rent. The notice must say that the lease will end if rent is not paid within 3 days, so that the tenant has a “right to cure” or fix the lease violation. The landlord cannot evict the tenant if the tenant pays rent on time within 3 days. The landlord must give a new notice of nonpayment each time rent is not paid. The court may dismiss the landlord’s case if the landlord does not give the right notice.
Danger of Clear and Present Danger 3-Day Notice
A “clear and present danger” is anything that puts other tenants, the landlord, or its employees at risk. The danger must be on or within 1,000 feet of the landlord’s property.
- The act of physically assaulting or threatening another person
- Possessing or using firearms illegally
- Possession of illegal drugs
A landlord can end the lease with a 3-day notice if he believes the tenant has done this or something similar. After that, the landlord can file an eviction case.
Tenants may be able to keep the person who caused the problem away from the rental property if the problem was not caused by them. There are specific rules to follow to use this “cure” option.
Get a protection order against domestic abuse
Report the person to law enforcement for prosecution, or
Send a letter to the person telling them to stay away or the tenant will report them for trespassing. Make sure the tenant gives a copy of the trespass letter to the police.
Prior to the landlord starting the eviction lawsuit, the tenant must show proof that one of these three things have been done.
In the event of an emergency, a landlord cannot remove a tenant or threaten some harm.
Notice of 7-Day Cure for Other Lease Violations
If a landlord believes a tenant has violated the terms of their lease, they typically must provide them with a 7-day notice detailing the issue. An example of this would be if there is a rule in the lease prohibiting pets and the landlord thinks that the tenants have a dog. The landlord must inform them in writing that, unless they remove said pet within seven days, their tenancy can be ended through an eviction case (following the serving of a 3-day ‘notice to quit’).
A 7-Day Notice of Lease Termination after a 7-Day Cure Notice has been given
In the case of a tenant violating their lease, such as having a pet when the agreement states otherwise, they will be given a 7-day cure notice. After the tenant complies with this and eliminates the violation, the lease remains intact. However, if they commit the same violation within 6 months after, the landlord can issue a 7-day termination notice as there are no more chances to fix it. If it occurs more than 6 months later, another cure notice must be issued.
30-Day Notice of Lease Termination
Many tenants sign a lease for a set amount of time, such as one year. Others have what is known as a “month-to-month” tenancy. This type of arrangement has no definite end date, and either the landlord or the tenant has the option to terminate it without citing any reason.
What if the Tenant is breaking the law?
However, if the termination is due to an unlawful cause, such as the tenant’s race or that of their visitors, this cannot be given as justification. It is necessary for both parties to provide written notice at least 30 days prior to when rent is next due in order to end a month-to-month agreement; thus, if rent is due on the first day of each month, termination can only take place then. Therefore, should a landlord give notice on September 10 with October 10 being the end date of the tenancy – this would not be possible and the applicable ending date would become November 1.
3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit
In order to get a tenant to leave, the landlord needs to end the tenancy. The landlord will most likely use one of the notices discussed in this article. In some cases, the landlord has to give another notice after the tenancy has ended. In this notice, the tenant is instructed to leave (“quit”) within 3 days rather than ending the tenancy. This notice must be given in the following situations:
After a 7-day notice to cure other lease violations, if the tenant does not remedy the problem
In the event that the problem recurs within 6 months of the prior 7-day notice to cure, the lease will be terminated after a 7-day notice to cure
Following a 30-day notice of termination
When the three days have passed, the landlord cannot file an eviction lawsuit. If the landlord files before the three days have passed, the court should dismiss the case.
The landlord must provide a tenant with three days’ notice of nonpayment of rent, three days’ notice of clear and present danger, seven days to cure lease violations, seven days’ notice to terminate the lease with no right of cure, thirty days’ notice to terminate the lease, and three days’ notice to quit in the following ways:
Process servers provide personal service per local eviction laws;
If the tenant signs an acknowledgment of service, the landlord will hand deliver;
If the tenant signs a dated receipt, certified mail can be used;
Posting the notice on the tenant’s main entrance and sending it via certified mail and regular mail.
According to the law, it takes four days for the landlord to receive a notice of nonpayment of rent when it is sent by mail. As a result, the tenant has seven days to pay the rent if the landlord mails and posts the notice. The law assumes, for example, that a notice is mailed on a Monday, but that it doesn’t reach the tenant until Friday. The tenant has until the end of the day on Monday to pay the rent if it was mailed on a Monday.
Procedural Steps in Eviction Cases
Tenants must be made aware of any eviction hearing minimum 3 days before it occurs. If the tenant is not notified three complete days before the hearing, the court should delay it. Generally, notification of the eviction case should be done through either ‘personal service’ by a process server or handed to them by the landlord in an acknowledgement of service. A minimum two attempts should be made using one of these two methods. When these efforts fail to yield results, then notice can be posted on the tenant’s main entrance along with sending it via both normal and certified mail.
The Eviction Hearing
You should attend the court hearing, even if you have a good defense. If you don’t, you could be evicted.
The court hearing provides an opportunity for both the landlord and tenant to voice their side of the story. It is not a given that the landlord will win simply because they served correct notice; if they are claiming rent wasn’t paid, the tenant can attempt to prove otherwise.
What about evidence to evict?
Additionally, where allegations of loud parties are concerned, the landlord must demonstrate that these were indeed disruptive to fellow tenants and persisted after receiving a 7 day warning. Relevant evidence can be adduced by either side and witnesses called upon to testify. Evictions cases tend to take place in small claims court and it’s common for both plaintiff and defendant to deal with them without legal representation.
The best way to defend against an eviction depends on the facts of your case. It is always better to hire a lawyer to help defend your case.
If a landlord wins the eviction case, the tenant can be instructed to vacate promptly. Generally there’s a small window of time for them to move out, which varies based off what the judge orders as well as how backed up the sheriff is. The sheriff will be responsible for supervising the tenant’s departure and their belongings. Should they choose to ignore it, their possessions will likely end up outdoors on the sidewalk. Some sheriffs may offer a friendliness gesture by giving tenants advanced warning that they’ll be removing their items. Although this is not compulsory, it’s generally done as a courtesy.
What Happens if the Tenant Wins?
After giving the right notice(s), landlords may file a new eviction case, which starts the process over. The landlord may be allowed to evict the tenant next time, but their claims may be dismissed a second time. It all depends on the circumstances.
Eviction Process in Iowa – a Landlord’s Guide
The Eviction Process in Iowa: Step by Step
Not sure where to start? Check this free MindMap to find out: Iowa Eviction FlowChart
If you’re not a FlowChart kind of person, you can read the details below.
You serve the tenant with Notice. (several different types depending upon the situation)
You file complaint with the County Court in which the property is situated (if unresolved). You must serve Court summons & complaint.
The County Court schedules a hearing.
You must attend hearing so the Court can issue judgment against tenant.
Then, a Writ of possession is issued.
The landlord takes possession of the property.
In Iowa, evictions can take between 15 days and up to 60 (if tenant has valid challenge or if a tenant appeals, the process could take longer than 2-3 weeks.)
Click to talk with an Iowa eviction attorney.
Here are the Grounds for an Eviction in Iowa
Legal grounds to evict in Iowa include not paying rent on time, staying after lease expiration, violating lease terms, and committing illegal activity. However, landlords must give proper notice before ending a tenancy.
Nonpayment of Rent 3 Days Yes End of Lease / No Lease 30 Days No Lease Violation 7 Days Yes Repeat Lease Violation 7 Days No Illegal Activity 3 Days No Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
A landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time in Iowa by giving the tenant a three-day notice to quit, which gives the tenant the option of paying the balance due or moving out.
The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant does not move out by the end of the notice period.
Violation of Lease or Responsibilities: Eviction
Under Iowa landlord-tenant law, a landlord may evict a tenant who violates the terms of their lease or does not uphold their legal responsibilities. The landlord must first give the tenant seven days’ notice to comply or leave, giving the tenant a chance to fix the problem or vacate.
The following are examples of lease violations:
A failure to maintain a clean and sanitary rental unit. Refusing to let the landlord into the rental unit. Using fixtures or appliances in a way that is unreasonable or unsafe. Causing minor property damage. Disturbing the peace and enjoyment of others. Landlords may file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant does not fix the issue or leave by the end of the notice period.
The landlord can serve a 7-day notice to vacate if the tenant repeats the same or a similar lease violation within six months.
Repeated lease violations result in eviction
If a tenant repeats the same or a similar lease violation within a 6-month period, the landlord can evict them by giving them a 7-day notice.
During the 7-day period, the tenant has no chance to fix the problem.
A landlord can file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant fails to move out by the end of the notice period.
Illegal Evictions – The Self-Help Eviction (don’t do it)
The use of a firearm or other deadly weapon. Possession of controlled substances. A clear and present danger to the health or safety of others. An eviction lawsuit can be filed by the landlord if the tenant does not move out by the end of the notice period.
Any of the following is illegal in Iowa. If found liable, the landlord could be forced to pay the tenant’s damages and reasonable attorney’s fees. Just don’t do it.
Evictions in retaliation
- A landlord cannot evict a tenant for exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:
- Making a complaint to the landlord or a governmental agency about building or housing code violations that affect the tenant’s health and safety. Forming a tenant’s union or similar organization.
Tenant is served with a notice by the landlord
Iowa landlords can begin the eviction process by delivering a written notice to the tenant. The notice can be delivered as follows:
Providing the notice of eviction to the tenant in person as well as sending it by regular and certified mail with a return receipt fulfills the necessary requirements. Additionally, the notice should be posted on a conspicuous place, such as the entry door. It is important for landlords to retain the original signed notice and declaration of service, as they can be used as proof in court if needed.
3-Day Notice to Quit
If a tenant is late paying rent (full or partial), the landlord can serve a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant three calendar days to pay the balance due.
30-Day Notice to Vacate
A landlord can terminate the tenancy of a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Iowa by serving them with a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. The tenant has 30 calendar days to move out.
The amount of notice varies, however, for tenants who do not pay monthly:
Frequency of rent payment Notice Amount Week-to-Week 10 Days Month-to-Month 30 Days Quarter-to-Quarter 30 Days Year-to-Year 30 Days 7-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate
The landlord in Iowa can evict a tenant if they violate their lease or do not comply with their legal obligations by serving them a 7-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate.
In the event that the tenant repeats the same or a similar lease violation within a 6-month period, the landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy by serving a 7-day notice to vacate.
7-Day Notice to Vacate
If a tenant repeats a lease violation within six months, the landlord can serve a 7-Day Notice to Vacate, giving them seven calendar days to vacate.
3-Day Notice of Lease Termination
The landlord may serve a 3-Day Notice of Termination to a tenant who commits illegal activity or demonstrates a clear and present danger to other tenants. This eviction notice gives the tenant three calendar days to vacate.
Click here to speak with an Iowa eviction lawyer
The second step is to file a lawsuit with the court.
An Iowa landlord must file a complaint with the appropriate court in order to proceed with the eviction process. There are some counties in Iowa that provide information on how evictions work specifically in that county. In Iowa, this costs around $95 in filing fees.
A summons and complaint are served on the tenant by the court.
An individual must serve the summons and complaint on the tenant
Those who are not part of the eviction for at least three days
The following methods can be used prior to the eviction hearing:
The summons and complaint should be posted in a conspicuous place on the rental unit and mailed via first class and certified mail three days before the hearing.
A hearing is held and a judgment is issued by the court
Eight days must pass before the eviction hearing
Unless the landlord requests a later hearing date, the hearing date shall not exceed 15 days after the complaint is filed with the court.
The tenant does not have to file a written response to the eviction complaint in order to attend the hearing; however, if the tenant fails to show up, the judge will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord.
The eviction process will proceed if the judge rules in favor of the landlord, either by default judgment or at an eviction hearing.
The eviction process will continue unless tenants appeal within 20 days of the date the judgment is issued.
An eviction hearing must be held within 8-15 days of the complaint being filed.
The Writ of Execution is issued in Step 5
Before law enforcement officials return to the property to remove the tenant forcibly, the writ of execution is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit.
At the hearing, if the landlord wins, a writ of execution will be issued, stating that the tenant must vacate the premises within three days
The tenant has three days from the date the judgment was issued in favor of the landlord to move out.
Timeline for the Iowa eviction process
Evictions in Iowa can take between 1 day (Cash for Keys (HUGE secret) and up to 60 days (if Tenant has valid challenge in court). Lots of variables twix the two.
In uncontested eviction cases, the following parts of the Iowa eviction process are outside the landlord’s control.
Approximate Time Initial Notice Period 3-30 Calendar Days Court Issuing Summons 3 Business Days Court Serving Summons 3 Business Days Tenant Response Period Not Required Court Ruling 8-15 Business Days Court Serving Writ of Possession Immediately Final Notice Period 3 Days Questions? Click here to chat with an Iowa eviction attorney Flowchart of Iowa Eviction Process
Fees for evictions in Iowa
Depending on the amount of the eviction claim, the total cost of an eviction in Iowa varies greatly. The average cost of an eviction in a Small Claims District Court case (for claims under $6,500) is $155. The average cost of a district court case (for claims over $6,500) is $255.
Fees in the Small Claims District Initial Court Filing $95+ $195 + Petition Service $30+ $30+ Writ of Execution Service $30 $30 Notice of Appeal (Optional) $195 $150 Document Copies (Optional) $0.50/ea $0.50/ea Read more
Additional information about the eviction process in Iowa can be found in Iowa Code 526A, 648, and the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 1.302 and 1.305.