Many landlords have questions about how the eviction process works in Iowa. This document is intended to answer some of those questions by explaining how the process generally works. This is not a replacement for legal advice because there are many technical issues that may arise, as well as current codes and rulings that are constantly changing. Advice from an attorney is always recommended.
An overview of the eviction process:
Part I - Cause for Eviction
The first step of the eviction starts with the landlord having cause for eviction. Cause includes such things as:
- Non-payment of rent1
- Noncompliance with healthy and safety building and housing codes2
- Unsanitary conditions3
- Improper disposal of wastes4
- Unreasonable use or manner of use of all electrical, plumbing sanitary, heating ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises5
- Deliberately or negligently destroy, deface damage, impair or remove a part of the premises or knowingly permit a person to do so6
- Act in a manner that will disturb a neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises7
- Violations of the rental agreement8
- Create a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the other tenants, landlord, landlord’s employees or agents, or other persons on or within one thousand feet of the landlord’s property9.
Part II - Necessary Notices and Service Procedures
Once there has been a violation of one of the above conditions the landlord needs to give written notice to the tenants that they are in violation. Usually the types of notices fall into one of the following:
- Failure to pay rent
- Three day notice of intent to terminate lease/notice to cure10
- Violation of lease
- Seven day notice to correct violation or lease terminates11
- For mobile homes 14 day notice to correct violation or lease terminates in 30 days12
- Clear and present danger
- Three day notice to quit for clear and present danger13 (should include information about what tenant can do to correct issue including notification to landlord)
- Stay over after lease expired
- Three day notice to quit14
- Other reasons landlord wishes to terminate lease
- 30 day notice from next periodic rental date15
- Three day notice to quit16
- No rental agreement but possession established (family member, guest, significant other, or squatter)
- Three day notice to quit17
Notices may have specific requirements per code and drafting of these should be done by legal counsel. Most notices allow the tenant to correct or cure the problem before eviction may occur.
Serving notices is another issue in which the landlord should take into account. Personal service is recommended for all services but there may be an alternate method.18 There is a general rule for counting days from service for court purposes that does not include the first day the notice was served and if the last day falls on a weekend or court holiday19.
Part III - Forcible Entry and Detainer Proceedings
After notice is served, the waiting period has expired, and the tenant has not made corrective action, the landlord may petition the court for an eviction hearing. This procedure is called Forcible Entry and Detainer or commonly referred to as FED. The clerk of court will issue a notice that includes a court date for both the landlord and tenant to appear. This hearing is usually scheduled about a week from when the petition is made20. The FED notice will also need to be served. Service of the FED notice21 is similar to service of the other notices. Special attention should be paid to some time limits that govern the time before the landlord may petition the court for a FED and the time before the hearing that notices have to be served22. The FED needs to be served at least 3 days prior to the hearing.
When notice is properly served and both parties show up at the scheduled hearing the tenant has an opportunity in court to explain why they should not be removed from the residence. The tenant may use the defenses that the landlord may have been non compliant23 or that they have made other corrective action24. After both the landlord and tenant have argued their positions before the court the court will issue judgment.
If the landlord is successful and obtains judgment in their favor they will need to obtain a Writ of Possession25. The Sheriff’s office is tasked with the writ’s service. They oversee the eviction and return the Writ of Possession to the court. Arrangement should be made with the Sheriff’s office for service and all evictions must be conducted during the daytime26. The landlord may wish to have further discussions with the Sheriff’s office when pets, appliances, vehicles, firearms, or other dangerous items may be involved.
Note: In March of 2010 major revisions were made the laws governing the eviction process especially regarding service. The current Code of Iowa is available online at this address https://www.legis.iowa.gov/IowaLaw/statutoryLaw.aspx
Please seek legal counsel for questions about the eviction process. The Sheriff’s Office is unable to give legal advice.
1 Iowa Code sections 562A.27 (562B.25 for Mobile Homes)
2 Iowa Code sections 562A.17 (562B.18 for Mobile Homes)
3 Iowa Code sections 562A.17 (562B.18 for Mobile Homes)
4 Iowa Code sections 562A.17 (562B.18 for Mobile Homes)
5 Iowa Code sections 562A.17 (562B.18 for Mobile Homes)
6 Iowa Code sections 562A.17 (562B.18 for Mobile Homes)
7 Iowa Code sections 562A.17 (562B.18 for Mobile Homes)
8 Iowa Code sections 562A.27 (562B.25 for Mobile Homes)
9 Iowa Code sections 562A.27A (562B.25A for Mobile Homes)
10 Iowa Code sections 562A.27(2); 562B.25(2); 648.3(1) as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
11 Iowa Code section 562A.27(1)
12 Iowa Code section 562B.25(1)
13 Iowa Code section 562A.27A(1)
14 Iowa Code section 648.3 as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
15 Iowa Code sections 562.4; 562A.9(4); 562A.34(2) [562B.10(4) 60 Day Notice for Mobile Homes 562B.10(4)]
16 Iowa Code section 648.3 as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
17 Iowa Code section 648.3 as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
18 Iowa Code sections 562A.8; 562A.29A; (562B.9; 562B.27A for Mobile Homes) as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
19 Iowa Code section 4.1(34)
20 Iowa Code section 648.5 as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
21 Iowa Code sections 648.3; 648.5 as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
22 Iowa Code sections 648.3; 648.5; 4.1(34) as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
23 Iowa Code section 562A.27(4)
24 Iowa Code section 562A.27A(3) as Amended by 2010 Iowa Code
25 Iowa Code section 648.22
26 Iowa Code section 648.20