For more general information about evictions, click here.
Iowa Legal Aid now has eviction help desks in six counties. Click here to learn more.
What If I Can’t Pay My Rent?
If you are unable to pay your rent, many agencies currently have rental assistance funds available. Do NOT wait. It is important to seek help as soon as possible.
• If you live in Polk County contact IMPACT Community Action Partnership at impactcap.org or 515-518-4770.
• For everywhere else in the state the Iowa Finance Authority has assistance available at iowahousingrecovery.com as well as General Assistance. Please note that the Iowa Finance Authority assistance requires your landlord to fill out a portion after you initially apply so be sure to apply as early as possible.
To learn about other rent assistance programs in your call 211 or visit Houseiowa.org.
Note: If you live in Des Moines, Iowa City, or Marion, your landlord cannot discriminate against you for using rent assistance funds.
What If I Am Being Evicted and My Rental Assistance Application Is Still Being Processed?
• You may have defenses. Issues in landlord-tenant law can be complicated, so you may want to speak to an attorney about your rights. It is best to reach out as soon as you get an eviction notice. People who cannot afford an attorney may be eligible for services from Iowa Legal Aid. To find out if you are eligible visit iowalegalaid.org or call 1-800-532-1275
• It is important to go to your hearing. Often if you do not appear at the hearing the judge will enter an eviction against you even if you had a defense.
• Iowa Legal Aid has an eviction help desk at the courthouses in Polk, Linn, Black Hawk, Johnson, Scott, and Pottawattamie counties. If you live in one of these counties, you may be able to meet with an attorney and apply for rent assistance at the courthouse prior to your hearing. You should arrive 40 minutes before your hearing to find out if you are eligible for help. If you can reach out to Iowa Legal Aid before the day of your hearing that would be even better as some cases have more complex issues that need more time to work through. Be sure to bring any notices, envelopes if notices came in the mail, leases or any other documents you believe may be relevant to your housing case to court.
Are there any protections still available that were put in place due to the pandemic?
Yes. On March 27, 2020, Congress passed and the President signed the federal CARES Act. The CARES Act dealt with many different things, including evictions. The CARES Act eviction moratorium ended on July 25, 2020. However, the CARES Act still requires landlords to provide 30-day notices to tenants before ending a lease in federally connected properties.
What is a “covered property” under the CARES Act?
A “covered property” is a property that has a certain kind of federal connection. Landlords are now required to file a form called a “CARES Act Verification” when they file an eviction. This form requires them to swear under penalty of perjury as to certain information courts need to know to figure out whether a property is a “covered property.”
However, even with this verification form requirement, it is still a good idea for a tenant to do their own investigation. Here are some ways to find out if you live in a “covered property:”
• Property subject to federal programs encouraging affordable housing. You can search by city at the National Low Income Housing Coalition website here to see if a property might be subject to such a program. If you use the map, a property subject to such a program should appear as a colored dot on the map on or near where the property is. You can click on the colored dot to check to make sure it is for the correct property, and see a list of programs that may cover that property. If you use the list, you can search by city, and look for your address. NOTE: the NHPD database is not 100% accurate, and sometimes gives a “false negative.” In other words, just because your property is not on the map or list does not mean it is not subject to one of these programs.
• Property where the tenant receives rental assistance through a Section 8 or USDA Housing Choice Voucher. A “Housing Choice Voucher” is a kind of rental assistance that can be accepted by almost any private landlord, and involves a three way set of agreements between a landlord, a tenant, and a public housing authority. If you have agreements with both your landlord and a public housing authority in connection with rental assistance, you probably have a Housing Choice Voucher.
• Property that is financed by a mortgage loan that is guaranteed by the federal government - FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac, or any other program connected to the federal government. Sometimes you can tell the home you live in is covered by a mortgage like this from public record, and sometimes you can’t. Here are some ideas that might help:
For FHA, VA, and some USDA mortgages, you can sometimes tell from the publicly recorded mortgage document because it will mention that government agency. You can check most publicly recorded documents by using Iowa Land Records (a free online service).
For “multifamily” housing (i.e. more than five unit), you can use the Fannie Mae Search Tool and Freddie Mac Search Tool. Be careful, because sometimes the tool is picky about what address you use and how it is spelled. It sometimes helps to try a few different ways. Just because you can’t find your property doesn’t mean it is not covered.
For all single-family (i.e. 1 to 4 unit) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, and some USDA loans, there is no way to currently tell this status based on public record.
What protections does the CARES Act give to people who live in “covered properties?”
The CARES Act requires that landlords of covered properties give their tenant a 30-Day Notice before they can evict.
Does any of this apply to manufactured housing?
Tenants in covered properties, including manufactured housing, cannot be evicted without a 30-day notice. See more details above.
Iowa Legal Aid Provides Legal Help to Low-Income Iowans
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To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275.
- Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or apply online at iowalegalaid.org
- If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.