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Landlord/Tenant Law

We represent tenants in legal actions against their landlords. Common claims include:

Rental Deposits
Your landlord can only withhold funds from your deposit for three reasons: 

  • To repay unpaid rent.
  • To restore the unit to its condition at the time you moved in (NOT including ordinary wear and tear). You should take pictures of the unit on move-in day. Especially anything that is out-of-the-ordinary. Carpet stains, dents in appliances, scratches or other damage that was already there when you moved in.
  • To recover expenses incurred by the landlord when a tenant overstays the tenancy.

Most of the time, deposit disputes revolve around repairs to the unit. If a landlord wrongfully keeps part or all of your deposit money, you may be entitled to a penalty up to 2 months' rent, plus attorney fees. 

Needed Repairs
Your landlord is required to keep your place in good, livable condition. Your landlord may have a duty to remedy problems like faulty appliances or plumbing, pest infestations like roaches, rodents, or bedbugs, and even problem neighbors. If problems persist, your remedies may include forcing the landlord to make repairs or potentially terminating the lease without a penalty to you. Also, if your landlord shuts off your water, power, or other services, or wrongfully changes your locks, you may have a claim for actual damages plus a penalty up to 2 months' rent, plus attorney fees.


Your landlord is prohibited from certain acts of retaliation. After you take certain protected actions, a landlord cannot: 

  • Raise your rent;
  • Decrease services; or
  • File for eviction or threaten to file for eviction against you.

Protected actions include:

  • Complaining to a government agency (like the housing inspector) about a habitability issue;
  • Complaining to the landlord about a habitability issue; or
  • Joining or forming a tenant's union or similar organization.

If your landlord violates these rules, you have a defense against eviction, you can recover any expenses incurred by you, and the landlord may have to pay your attorney's fees.

Abuse of Access
Your landlord (or anybody acting on behalf of your landlord) may not enter your unit without proper notice unless it is an emergency. Proper notice usually means 24 hours. A landlord is also prohibited from making so many otherwise legal entries that it turns into harassment. If a landlord commits "abuse of access," you may have a claim for actual damages caused by the conduct (no less than one month's rent) and attorney fees, or you could terminate your lease. You can also get a court order to make the landlord stop.

While there are more details in Iowa's landlord/tenant laws, these are the most common issues we see. If you believe your landlord has broken the law, contact us right away for a free consultation.

‚ÄčGreenberg & Hurd, LLP