Iowa eviction notices, or notices to quit, are used to notify a tenant that the landlord intends on terminating the lease agreement between them after a certain number of days. The reasons for terminating a lease agreement can be for non-payment of rent, violating the terms and conditions of the lease, endangering other people on or around the property, or because the tenancy is at-will and the landlord wishes to regain possession. In certain cases, the landlord must provide the tenant with the opportunity to remedy the breach they have caused. Other situations permit the landlord to terminate the lease upon delivery of the notice to the tenant, and the tenant is asked to vacate the premises before the notice period is up. Should the tenant refuse to comply with a notice to quit, the landlord may be forced to file a forcible entry and detainer action against them.
3-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment – Used to notify a tenant that they have defaulted in their rent payment. They have three (3) days to pay back the landlord or their lease will be terminated.
3-Day Notice to Quit for Clear and Present Danger – If a tenant commits an action that causes or threatens to cause harm to another individual, a landlord may serve this notice which terminates the lease and gives the tenant three (3) days to vacate the premises.
7-Day Notice to Terminate for Non-Compliance – Informs a tenant that they have committed a material non-compliance and they must remedy the situation or their lease will terminate within seven (7) days. If this is the second infraction of a similar nature committed by the tenant within six (6) months, they will not be given the opportunity to cure the violation.
30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Lease – A lease termination letter used to end a lease agreement between a landlord and tenant without cause.
3-Day Notice to Quit – If a tenant does not move out on their own accord after having been served a 7-day or 30-day notice to terminate a tenancy, the landlord can deliver this 3-day notice to quit demanding the tenant surrender possession of the property or face an eviction suit.
- Grace Period: Not mentioned in state statutes.
- Non-Payment of Rent (§ 562A.27(2)): Three (3) Days
- Lease Non-Compliance (§ 562A.27(1)): Seven (7) Days
- Periodic Tenancy Termination (§ 562A.34(2)): Thirty (30) Days
- Illegal Activity (§ 562A.27A): Three (3) Days
- Intentional Damage to the Property: Not specifically mentioned in state statutes, but is classified as a material non-compliance, the tenant has seven (7) days to cure the violation (§ 562A.27(1))
An eviction action in Iowa, more commonly referred to as a forcible entry and detainer, can be pursued by a landlord if the tenant fails to pay rent, maintains possession of the property after the lease has terminated, or maintains possession contrary to the terms of the lease. Regardless of the landlord’s reasoning for filing a forcible entry and detainer, they must notify the tenant of their intentions before seeking such legal action.
Step 1 – Serve Notice to Quit
There are a number of notices that can be used by a landlord to terminate a lease and inform their tenant that legal action may be sought if they fail to adhere to the demands of the notice. The landlord must download, complete, and properly serve a notice to quit on the tenant before filing a forcible entry and detainer.
- 3-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment – The tenant has failed to pay rent on time. The landlord can terminate the tenancy if the tenant doesn’t pay all rent due within three (3) days of receiving this notice.
- 3-Day Notice to Quit for Clear and Present Danger – The tenant has caused or threatened to cause harm to another person on or around the property. Their lease is terminated upon receiving this notice and they have three (3) days to vacate the premises.
- 7-Day Notice to Terminate for Non-Compliance – The tenant has committed a material non-compliance and they have seven (7) days to cure the violation or their lease terminates. This notice can also be used if the tenant committed a similar non-compliance within six (6) months of the initial violation. Their lease terminates upon seven (7) days’ notice within the opportunity to cure.
- 30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Tenancy – Used when a lease agreement with a fixed end-date does not exist between the parties and the landlord intends on terminating the tenancy without cause after thirty (30) days.
Step 2 – Serve 2nd Notice to Quit (If Applicable)
If the notice to quit is for non-compliance or month-to-month lease termination, and the notice has expired, the landlord cannot immediately file a forcible entry and detainer action against the tenant. They must first download, complete, and serve upon the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Quit. The reason for this is serving a 7-day notice or a 30-day notice only terminates the tenancy and does not demand repossession of the property from the tenant. The 3-day notice to quit does not need to be used if the tenant failed to pay rent or was a danger to another person on the property.
Step 3 – Request an EDMS User Account
If the tenant does not remove themselves from the premises after a notice to quit has been delivered to them, the landlord can commence the eviction process. Forcible entry and detainer suits are handled by small claims court and can be filed online at the Iowa Judicial Branch eFiling web portal. The following steps must be completed if the landlord does not yet have an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) account:
- Visit the eFiling portal and click “Request Account.”
- Read the user agreement, click “I have read, understand, and agree to comply…” checkbox, and click “Submit.”
- Select your user role and click “Next.”
- Complete all the required fields with the appropriate personal information and click “Submit.”
Note: A person can be exempt from filing online for a number of reasons. If this is the case, the landlord will complete these steps in person at the Clerk of Court office in their county.
Step 4 – File a New Case
Before the landlord can file a petition for forcible entry and detainer, they must file a new case on their EDMS account. Once logged into their EDMS account, the user will find that the home page contains a button labeled “New Case.” Once this button has been clicked, the website will lead the user through a series of steps to complete the process of filing a new case. The Iowa court provides these instructions that can be referenced throughout the stages of filing.
Step 5 – File Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer
Once an EDMS account has been registered and a new case has been filed, the landlord can complete an Original Notice and Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer (Form 3.6) and a Verification of Account, Identification of Judgment Debtor, and Certificate Re Military Service (Form 3.27). If the landlord is requesting money for damages or past due rent, they can also complete an Original Notice and Petition for a Money Judgment (Form 3.1). A filing fee of $85 will be charged at the time of filing. All completed documents, along with an Appearance and Answer of Defendant(s) (Form 3.11), will be in the landlord’s “My Filings” page on their eFiling account. A hearing date will be set by the court clerk no later than eight (8) days after the filing date, and they will post the hearing date and time and inscribe their signature on all applicable forms.
Step 6 – Serve Notices
The Original Notice for Forcible Entry and Detainer form and the Appearance and Answer form must be downloaded and delivered to the tenant at least three (3) days before the hearing date. The documents must be served on the tenant by the county sheriff’s department in the county where the property is located. The sheriff can accomplish the service in one of the following manners:
- The documents are hand-delivered to the tenant in person.
- If the tenant cannot be located, the documents can be handed to a person residing on the property who is at least eighteen (18) years of age. The tenant must sign an acknowledgment of service at least three (3) days before the hearing.
- After two (2) unsuccessful attempts at serving the tenant, the documents can be posted on the front door of the property and copies mailed to the tenant’s last-known address.
Step 7 – Hearing
The tenant must register for an EDMS account (if they don’t have one already) and upload their completed Appearance and Answer of Defendant(s) form to the online portal. EDMS will send a copy of this form to the landlord and/or the landlord’s attorney (depending on who registered for an account). If the tenant accepts the claim made by the landlord, judgment may be entered without a hearing. If the tenant denies all or a part of the claim made by the landlord, the hearing will take place at the date and time set by the clerk. Both parties must appear before the judge for the hearing and present any evidence and/or call any witnesses to argue their case.
Step 8 – Judgment
The judge will make their final judgment when they have heard all testimony from the parties. If the tenant wins the case, they will not have to vacate the premises. The landlord may choose to file an appeal (Notice of Appeal (Form 23.26)) if they feel the judgment is unfair. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be given a few days to remove themselves from the premises. (The tenant also has the option of filing for a Notice of Appeal.) In some cases, the judge may demand that the tenant hand over possession of the property immediately. The sheriff’s department is in charge of overseeing the removal of the tenant and their property.
- Original Notice and Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer (Form 3.6)
- Signing: Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s Attorney
- Verification of Account, Identification of Judgment Debtor, and Certificate Re Military Service (Form 3.27)
- Signing: Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s Attorney and Affiant
- Original Notice and Petition for a Money Judgment (Form 3.1)
- Signing: Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s Attorney
- Appearance and Answer of Defendant(s) (Form 3.11)
- Signing: Defendant or Defendant’s Attorney
- Notice of Appeal (Form 23.26)
- Signing: Appealing Party or Attorney
- Iowa Judicial Branch eFiling Website
- eFile Instructions
- Instructions for Filing a New Case on EDMS
- Iowa Judicial Branch Court Directory