How to Evict Someone in Iowa: Step by Step Guide

How to Evict Someone in Iowa: Step by Step Guide

A cartoon of hands holding and signing documents.

According to Iowa Code, the legal term for eviction is “Forcible Entry and Detainer.” Those seeking to evict tenants should familiarize themselves with the Iowa Code for a more in-depth look at their rules and regulations. We will break down the basic steps for you to give you a head start on learning about the eviction process.

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How to evict someone in Iowa

The eviction process in Iowa can be broken into about three steps. These steps may require paperwork and even consultation with a lawyer depending on the case.

Step one: file and serve a notice to Cure or Quit

To begin the eviction process in Iowa, a landlord must serve the tenant with an Iowa Eviction Notice. Importantly, this notice is also referred to as a notice to Cure or Quit. For common eviction reasons, such as failure to pay rent and staying past the final date on the lease, landlords should file a 3 Day Notice. However, for other violations, a 7 Day Notice is recommended.

Person filling out legal forms for the Iowa eviction process.

Next, the Cure or Quit notice needs to be served to the tenant. This can be done in two different ways. Firstly, the landlord must hand-deliver the notice to the tenant, or a resident in the same home that is at least 18 years of age, and have them sign a copy of the notice to acknowledge that they have been notified. The other way to serve the notice requires the landlord to post the notice on the tenant’s door. In addition, the landlord is then required to mail a copy of the notice to the tenant. Note, this must be done by both certified and regular mail. Landlords must save the certified mailing receipt. Importantly, the tenant is deemed to be “served” four days after the postmarked date. At this time, their 3-7 day notice period begins.

FAQ: What is Certified Mail?

Certified Mail is a type of mail that provides the sender with a mailing receipt and electronic verification that an article was delivered or that a delivery attempt was made.

Step two: file Forcible Entry and Detailer

If the tenant has not cured the outstanding issue or left the premises after the time outlined in their Cure or Quit, then further steps should be taken by the landlord. This next step requires a landlord to file a case called a Forcible Entry and Detainer. This requires the landlord to go to the Clerk of the Court located in the same county where the property is located. Then, they will ask for the tenant to be served with the Forcible Entry and Detainer.

Court gavel.

Once this second notice is filed, the landlord and tenant will be required to appear in court in front of a judge. Here, the landlord should bring all evidence in support of their case. This includes copies of the lease agreement, photographs, messages, copies of notices served, etc. Anything that may help the judge to make an informed decision for the case. Note, if the tenant does not show up to the assigned court date, the judge will rule in favor of the landlord.

FAQ: Who serves the Forcible Entry and Detainer?

It is considered best to have the Sherrif’s Office serve this notice to tenants. Do this through communication with the County Clerk’s office.

Step Three: Request a Writ of Possession

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, and the tenant still does not vacate the premises, then further action must be taken. Next, the landlord needs to request the Writ of Possession form from the County Clerk. Note, this should be for the same county where the property is located. After the form is requested, the County Clerk will send it to the Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff is responsible for delivering the notice to the tenant and will set a time and date of physical removal. Usually, the tenant will leave before they are physically removed. If they don’t, the sheriff will be present at the specified time to assist with all matters.

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FAQ: What about moving the tenant’s belongings after eviction?

The landlord is responsible for moving all of the belongings out of the property, which can require a lot of manpower. Hiring movers can be a good option to save time and energy during this process.

Packing boxes resting in a newly-evicted house.

More FAQs

How long does it take to evict someone in Iowa?

It depends. In the best of cases, a tenant will leave the property after the initial notice is served. However, in other severe scenarios, the eviction process can take around 45 days.

What reasons justify an eviction in Iowa?

There are several reasons that can lead to an eviction. One of the most common is non-payment of rent. In addition, landlords can evict tenants due to health code violations, destroying property, or disturbing neighbors. Also, for violating the rental agreement. 

How do I evict my roommate in Iowa?

The first step to evicting a roommate is to talk to your landlord. Here, explain why you believe your roommate should be evicted. Then, if the landlord is in agreement, the same steps should be followed as when evicting a tenant. Also, this same process can be followed for evicting sub-tenants.

What are the reasons why a landlord cannot evict a tenant in Iowa?

No, these types of evictions are illegal in Iowa. In order to legally evict a tenant, a landlord must file and serve the required notices. These are outlined by the Iowa Code.

Aubrey graduated from UCLA in 2019 with dual degrees in English and Psychology, as well as receiving a concentration in Fiction Creative Writing. Her writing can be found at Locale Magazine, UCLA's MindWell pod, HerCampus, Westwind, and Bloody Donuts. Aubrey currently lives in Los Angeles with her orange tabby cat, Bowie, and spends her free time reading anything she can get her hands on and soaking up the golden California sun. You can find her hiking the Laguna trails, making jewelry, or exploring the local library.