Landlord -Tenant Law Changes Coming July 1, 2013 A bill which modifies the relationship between the landlord and tenant relationship has been passed through the legislative process and will become effective July 1, 2013.
Alterations to the current code include:
1. Increasing the amount of late payment fee/fine. Current code limits late fee at $10 per day for four days- maximum late fee = $40. New code will be based on rent. Rents up to and including $700 per month, the maximum amount will become $12 per day to a maximum late fee of $60 per month. Monthly rent over $700, maximum amount of fee tops out at $20 per day to a maximum of $100 late fee.
2. Also favoring landlord – if tenants trash a rental unit, by deliberately or negligently destroying, defacing, damaging, impairing or removing a part of the premises or knowingly permit a person to do so, and if found that the tenant’s actions were intentional, the tenant may be criminally charged with criminal mischief pursuant to chapter 716. This will make it clear in landlord-tenant code this is an option for police and prosecutors. You may want to indicate this in your applications for lease and/or the lease itself.
3. Landlords who in bad faith retain rental deposit now face the prospect of being assessed actual damages and penalized punitive damages of two months’ rent, instead of the current maximum punitive penalty amount of $200.
4. Landlords who or who unlawfully evict (i.e. do not follow procedures in the Code) or if a landlord willfully diminishes services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of electric, gas, water, or other essential service to the tenant, the tenant may recover possession pursuant to Iowa code, or terminate the rental agreement and, in either case, recover the actual damages sustained by the tenant, with punitive damages not to exceed twice the monthly rental payment, AND reasonable attorney fees. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security.
5. A last major item is that if a landlord temporarily waives in writing a term which demands action within a number of days (i.e. stating that this month rent can be 8 days late) … the landlord does not lose the right to insist upon the original terms for future issues (i.e. Next month rent is due as originally agreed upon and as scheduled.)