lease-provisions

Iowa Security Deposit Law

Author: Kasee Godwin
Date: 10.30.2023

Iowa Security Deposit Law: A Comprehensive Guide

When renting a property in Iowa, it’s crucial to understand the intricacies of the Iowa security deposit law. Like other states, Iowa has its set of regulations concerning security deposits. This blog offers an in-depth look into the essential aspects of the law to ensure both landlords and tenants are well-informed.

How Much Can a Landlord Charge for a Security Deposit?

Under the Iowa security deposit law, landlords can charge no more than two months’ rent as a security deposit. Landlords need to ensure they don’t exceed this limit and that tenants are aware of this so they’re not overcharged.

Storing the Security Deposit

Iowa law mandates landlords to store the security deposit in an Iowa financial institution’s separate, interest-bearing account. This ensures that the funds are kept safe and are not used for other purposes.

Returning the Security Deposit

  • Timeline: The Iowa security deposit law requires landlords to return the security deposit within 30 days of the termination of the tenancy. Both parties need to be aware of this timeline.
  • Deductions: If a landlord wishes to make deductions from the security deposit for unpaid rent or damages, they must provide the tenant with a written statement listing the specific reasons for the deductions. This statement should be sent to the tenant’s last known mailing address within 30 days.
  • Failure to Provide Statement: If a landlord does not provide the written statement, they forfeit any rights to withhold any part of the security deposit. This underscores the importance of adhering to the stipulated procedures in the Iowa security deposit law.

Iowa Laws Surrounding Other Rental Fees

  • Late Fees: If tenants do not pay rent on time, landlords can charge late fees. However, the lease agreement should explicitly mention the fee amount and conditions. The amount should be reasonable and not punitive.
  • Returned Check Fees: Landlords can charge tenants a fee if their rent check bounces due to insufficient funds. The fee should be intended to compensate for the inconvenience and any bank fees the landlord might incur, but it should not be excessive.
  • Application Fees: While it’s common in many states for landlords to charge prospective tenants an application fee to cover the cost of background or credit checks, the fee amount and its use should be reasonable. In Iowa, landlords must be careful not to use application fees as a revenue source; they should directly relate to the costs of processing an application.
  • Non-refundable Fees: The lease agreement should clearly state any non-refundable fees. However, landlords should be cautious about imposing too many non-refundable fees, as excessive or unreasonable charges could be contested in court.
  • Pet Fees: Landlords can charge additional fees or deposits if tenants have pets. These fees or deposits can cover potential damages caused by pets. Like other fees, pet fees should be specified in the rental agreement.
  • Maintenance and Repair Fees: Landlords can sometimes charge tenants for specific services or repairs, especially if the damage was due to the tenant’s actions or negligence. Again, it’s crucial for such provisions to be clearly outlined in the lease agreement.
  • Utilities and Service Fees: Depending on the rental agreement, tenants might be responsible for certain utilities or services. If landlords charge tenants for utilities, the allocation method and associated fees should be transparent.

What Happens if the Landlord Doesn’t Comply?

Non-compliance with the Iowa security deposit law can lead to consequences for the landlord. Suppose the landlord wrongfully withholds the deposit or fails to return it within 30 days without a valid reason. In that case, they might be liable to pay the tenant up to twice the security deposit amount as a penalty and any actual damages.

A Few Additional Notes for Tenants and Landlords

  • Written Records: It’s always a good practice for both tenants and landlords to keep written records of any transactions or communications regarding the security deposit. This helps in case there’s a dispute in the future.
  • Property Inspection: Conducting a thorough property inspection and documenting any existing damages can be beneficial before moving in and after moving out. This ensures clarity on what damages, if any, occurred during the tenancy.
  • Stay Informed: Laws can evolve. Tenants and landlords must stay updated on any changes or amendments to the Iowa security deposit law.
  • Security deposit alternatives: instead of a traditional security deposit like the ones outlined here, renters should check with their landlords to see if they offer a security deposit alternative. These alternatives allow renters to opt for a small monthly fee rather than a large lump sum.

In conclusion, understanding the Iowa security deposit law is essential for a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship. Knowing these regulations will prove invaluable if you’re a landlord looking to protect your property or a tenant wanting to uphold your rights. If you’re in doubt, consulting a legal professional well-versed in Iowa rental laws is a good idea.

Disclaimer: This blog provides a general overview of the Iowa security deposit law and should not be considered legal advice. For specific questions or concerns, consult a legal professional.

Source: Iowa Code § 562A.12

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Kasee Godwin

Position: Director of Marketing
Social Networks

Kasee is the Director of Marketing for Qira. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate marketing industry, including 10 years on the client side. In her spare time, she enjoys reading science fiction, exploring new wineries, and fostering Golden Retrievers.

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