Iowa

How Notices Must Be Served Under Iowa's Landlord-Tenant Law

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid

Changes in Iowa's Landlord-Tenant Law

In 2010 and 2013 Iowa Laws changed the way notices by both landlords and tenants need to be given.  Different types of notices can require different types of service to be considered valid.

Under the law, a landlord can serve a tenant with a 3 day notice of nonpayment of rent in any of the following ways:

  • personal service by a process server;
  • hand delivery by the landlord if the tenant signs an acknowledgment of service; or
  • posting on the tenant's main entrance along with both regular and certified mail.

If the landlord decides to send the notice by mail, then the law assumes that it takes four days for the notice to be received. That means that if the landlord decides to mail and post the notice the tenant has 7 days to pay the rent from the day the notice is mailed. For example, if the notice is mailed on a Monday, then the law assumes that it was not received until Friday. The tenant would have until the end of the day on the next Monday to pay the rent.

A landlord must also use one of the three ways listed above to serve other eviction notices. This includes a 7-day lease violation notice, a clear and present danger notice, 30 day terminating the lease and a 3 day notice to quit.

There is a different rule for the notice of the eviction hearing, also known as a Forcible Entry and Detainer Action Original Notice. The Original notice can be served by:

  1. Having a resident of the premises sign and date an acknowledgment of service of the Original Notice. The acknowledgment of service must be signed and dated more than 3 days prior to the hearing.
  2. Personal Service more than 3 days prior to the hearing.

The landlord MUST make at least two attempts to personally serve the notice on the tenant[cl1] . If the landlord is unable to serve the tenant this way, then the landlord can send the notice by regular and certified mail. If the landlord mails the notices, he must also post notice of the hearing on the door[cl2] . The law assumes that it takes four days for the notice to be received by mail.  Service needs to be completed at least 3 days prior to the hearing in order service to be considered valid.

  • Landlords can serve all other notices in one of these ways:
  • hand delivery;
  • acknowledgment of delivery signed by the tenant or a resident who is over 18;
  • personal service by a process server;
  • mailing by regular and certified mail;
  • posting on the primary entrance door; or
  • any way the tenant actually receives the notice.

Tenants can serve notices, such as a 30 day notice ending a month-to-month lease, or a repair and deduct notice, in one of these ways:

  • hand delivery;
  • acknowledgment of delivery signed by the landlord;
  • delivery to an employee of the landlord's office;
  • personal service;
  • mailing by regular and certified mail; or
  • any way the landlord actually receives the notice.

Providing legal assistance to help low-income Iowans and seniors who face a problem with housing is a priority for Iowa Legal Aid. To find out if you can get help from Iowa Legal Aid, call 1-800-532-1275 (se habla español).