How to Evict a Tenant in Iowa

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A landlord in Iowa who needs to evict a tenant must follow the procedures defined in state law or risk losing the eviction case and paying damages to the tenant. You are permitted to evict a tenant for past due rent, lease violations and some types of tenant problems, like when a tenant is harassing or harming other tenants in your rental building. The eviction process is handled through the small claims court system responsible for the area where your rental property is located.

Write a notice to quit or cure. A notice to quit is for unpaid rent; a notice to cure is for breach of lease terms. State the exact reason why the tenant is being evicted. Include the amount of past due rent, if any, and when the last payment was received. List the ways the tenant can remedy the situation, if possible. Make a copy. Mail the letter to the tenant by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep the receipt for proof of delivery. Wait three days before proceeding with the eviction, as required under Iowa law, for unpaid rent evictions. Wait seven days for breach of lease evictions.

Visit the office of the clerk of the Iowa Smalls Claims Court. Ask for the Forcible Entry and Detainer forms. Fill out the forms in full and follow the attached instructions. File the forms along with your return receipt and notice copy. Serve the notice on the tenant by certified mail, return receipt requested or visit your local Sheriff's Office to have the notice served. You will receive a hearing date after three days has passed, per §648.5 of the Iowa Code.

Attend the eviction hearing. Bring all proof of your reason for the eviction with you, like a signed lease, photographs or any other evidence you have. The judge will grant you immediate possession of the rental unit if you win the case.

Get a Writ of Removal if the evicted tenant will not leave. Visit the Clerk of the Small Claims Court office and ask for a Writ of Removal. Bring the court papers from your hearing to prove you are entitled to immediate possession. The writ is send to the Sheriff's Office, and a Sheriff will oversee the removal of the tenant from the unit. Comply with all requests from the Sheriff's Office. Inform the Sheriff immediately if the tenant leaves before the date the Sheriff planned to visit the unit.


  • Do not confront your tenant; violence against you may result.


About the Author

Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

Photo Credits

  • VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Photodisc/Getty Images