Landlord Notices to Tenants
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
What are the most common notices given by landlords?
30 Day Notice of Termination of Lease [Iowa Code § 562A.34(3)]
A landlord gives a tenant a 30 day notice to end a month-to-month lease. A month-to-month lease is one where rent is paid once a month and there is no specific ending date in the lease. The 30 day notice must be given in writing. The notice must give at least 30 days before the date when rent is due. No reason is needed to end a month-to-month tenancy in most cases. Either the landlord or the tenant can decide to end a month-to-month tenancy in most cases. However, the landlord cannot end the tenancy for an illegal reason. For example, landlords cannot end a tenancy because of a discriminatory reason. There are also some situations where the landlord must have “good cause” to end a month-to-month tenancy. Many subsidized housing units or low-income housing tax credit properties are governed by such regulations.
A 30 day notice given by a landlord generally tells the tenant that the specified month will be the last month of the lease. Ideally, the tenant will find a new place to live by the end of the 30 day period. If the tenant does not move by the date in the 30 day notice, the landlord can give the tenant a 3 day notice to quit after that day. The 3 day notice tells the tenant that he or she must leave the premises (“quit”) within 3 days. The landlord may file an eviction action (forcible entry and detainer action) after those 3 days have passed
3 Day Notice of Nonpayment of Rent [Iowa Code § 562A.27(2)]
If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord may give a written notice to the tenant. The notice has to say that the lease will end if the rent is not paid within 3 days. This notice gives the tenant a right to cure the default by paying the rent within 3 days. If the tenant pays the rent in those 3 days, the landlord cannot evict the tenant. The landlord must give a new 3 day notice of nonpayment each time rent is not paid. If the tenant does not pay rent within the 3 days, the landlord may file an eviction action.
7 Day Notice of Breach of Lease [Iowa Code § 562A.27(1)]
A landlord may give the tenant a notice if the tenant has violated the lease. The landlord must normally give the tenants a 7 day notice with a right to fix or "cure" the lease violation, unless the violation is unpaid rent or a “clear and present danger.” For example, a landlord may think a tenant has a dog, and the lease says no pets. The landlord must give the tenant a written notice. The notice must say the lease will end if the tenant does not get rid of the dog within 7 days. If the tenant gets rid of the dog within 7 days, then the lease does not end. If the tenant does not get rid of the dog, then the lease will end after 7 days from the date the 7-day notice was served on the tenant. The landlord can then give the tenant a 3 day notice to quit. The 3 day notice tells the tenant that they must leave the premises (“quit”) within 3 days. The landlord may file an eviction action (forcible entry and detainer action) after those 3 days have passed
3 Day Notice of Clear and Present Danger [Iowa Code § 562A.27A]
A "clear and present danger" could be anything putting other tenants, the landlord, or the landlord’s employees in danger. The danger must be on or within 1,000 feet of the landlord's property.
The law says a "clear and present danger" includes:
- physically assaulting or threatening another;
- illegally using or possessing a firearm; or
- possessing illegal drugs.
If a landlord thinks the tenant has created a clear and present danger, then the landlord may give the tenant a 3 day notice. After those 3 days, the landlord can file an eviction case. If the danger was not caused by the tenant, the tenant may be able to cure the danger by keeping the person who caused the danger away from the rental property. There are specific rules that have to be followed to use this "cure" option. The 3 day notice must tell the tenant how to use the cure option. If the tenant did not create the danger and takes the proper steps to cure the danger, then the tenant cannot be evicted.
How must the landlord give the tenant those notices?
A landlord must serve a tenant with a 30 day notice of termination of tenancy, a 3 day notice of nonpayment of rent, a 7 day notice of Breach of lease, a 3 day notice to quit, and/or a 3 day clear and present danger notice in one of the following ways:
- personal service by a process server;
- hand delivery by the landlord if the tenant signs an acknowledgment of service;
- certified mail if the tenant signs a dated receipt; or
- posting the notice on the tenant's main entrance and sending it by 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.
What happens when the landlord files an eviction case?
Once an eviction case is filed, a hearing date will be set. You will have a chance to tell the judge your side of the case at the hearing. The hearing will be no later than 8 days after the case is filed unless the landlord agrees to a later hearing date. Even if the landlord agrees to a later hearing date, the hearing must still occur within 15 days of when the case was filed. The tenant must then be given a copy of the eviction papers at least three days before the hearing. The eviction papers will tell the tenant about the eviction hearing. Original notice of the eviction case must normally be given by personal service by a process server or hand delivery by the landlord if the tenant signs an acknowledgment of service. At least two attempts must be made to serve the tenant using one of those two methods. If those two attempts are not successful, service of the original notice may be made by posting the notice on the tenant's main entrance and sending it by both regular and certified mail.
Can my landlord evict me without filing an eviction case in court?
No. Iowa law does not provide for self-help evictions. In order to properly evict a tenant, a landlord must first obtain a court order. The landlord may only get a court order by filing an eviction action. If a landlord removes you without filing with the court, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you have questions about a notice you have received from your landlord, contact Iowa Legal Aid.