Eviction actions, called entry and detainer actions in Iowa, are available to any landlord who follows Iowa law. Landlords must go through the entire eviction process in order to remove a tenant. If a landlord does not follow Iowa law and instead personally forces the tenant out, the landlord may be liable to the tenant for damages.
Available Iowa Termination Notices
Before a landlord may begin eviction proceedings, he or she must first serve the tenant with the appropriate notice. For fixed term (one year or two year) tenancies, if the landlord wants to evict for failing to pay rent, the tenant must receive a 3 day notice. If the eviction is for a different breach of the lease, the tenant has 7 days. For month-to-month tenancies, the landlord must give 30 days, and for week-to-week tenancies, the landlord must give 10 days.
If a landlord wishes to end a term tenancy earlier than specified in the lease, he or she may do so by serving the tenant with an appropriate notice. Iowa allows for the following types of written termination notices:
Notice to pay rent (notice to quit): This is a 3 day notice. The tenant must pay rent within 3 days of receiving the notice. After that the landlord can begin eviction proceedings (Iowa Code 648.3).
Notice to remedy or quit: This is a 7 day notice. It is given for material noncompliance with the lease - in other words, breach of the lease. The tenant has 7 days to fix the breach or leave before the landlord can begin eviction proceedings (Iowa Code 562A.27A(1)).
For Iowa small claims forms, including the Notice of an Action for Forcible Enter and Detainer, click here.
Iowa evictions are handled in the small claims divisions of the district courts. Find your local district court on the Iowa courts website. For additional help on filing in small claims court, see the "Representing Yourself" section of the Iowa courts site. While simply filling out a court form may seem like the easiest way to evict your difficult tenant, sometimes events do not unfold as smoothly as you had hoped. If you are unsure of the termination and/or eviction process at any point, you may wish to hire or consult with an Iowa landlord tenant attorney. Be sure to refer to Questions to Ask Your Iowa Evictions Lawyer below when speaking with an attorney.
Self-Help Evictions in Iowa
Self-help evictions are illegal in Iowa. If a landlord locks out a tenant, shuts off the tenant's utilities, or uses any other method to force the tenant out of the property without going through the eviction process, the tenant may be able to retake possession of the property, terminate the lease, and, under Iowa Code 562A.26, recover:
- Actual damages; and
- Attorney's fees.
Questions to Ask Your Iowa Evictions Lawyer
- How many evictions cases have you handled?
- How many were successful/unsuccessful?
- How long will the eviction process take?
- For tenants: How long do I have before I MUST move out?
- For landlords: Will I be able to get a judgment for back rent for the amount of time the tenant has been living in the rental property illegally?
- What do you charge?
- For landlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?