Keeping the property safe and clean is of utmost importance anytime during a lease agreement. Importantly, one should know how the responsibilities are divided up between the landlord and the tenant as Iowa laws are very specific about this division of labor and upkeep.

Landlord’s responsibilities:

  1. comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
  2. make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
  3. keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition. The landlord shall not be liable for any injury caused by any objects or materials which belong to or which have been placed by the tenant in the common areas of the premises used by the tenant;
  4. maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord;
  5. provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences, accessible to all tenants, for the central collection and removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the premises and arrange for their removal; and
  6. supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat, except where the building that includes the premises is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the premises is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.

This language can be regarded as simply keeping up with any building and housing codes In fact, the legislation states that if the duty imposed by the HOA or local laws to comply with building and housing codes is greater than that of any other responsibility on the list, the full extent of the landlord’s duties shall be determined by his or her compliance with building and housing codes.

Tenant’s responsibilities:

  1. comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
  2. keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
  3. dispose from the premises all ashes, rubbish, garbage, and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
  4. keep all plumbing fixtures in the premises or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
  5. use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises;
  6. not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove a part of the premises or knowingly permit a person to do so. If damage, defacement, alteration, or destruction of property by the tenant is intentional, the tenant may be criminally charged with criminal mischief pursuant to Iowa Code § 716; and
  7. act in a manner that will not disturb a neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment.

Iowa law allows for the tenant to perform the landlord’s responsibilities to provide garbage receptacles; to provide running water and hot water; and to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, and remodeling if the premises is a single-family residence and the transaction is entered into in good faith and in writing. If the premises is other than a single-family residence, the landlord and tenant may come to an agreement for the tenant to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations and remodeling only if a) the agreement between parties is in good faith and is set forth in writing and signed, and b) if the agreement does not diminish the obligation of the landlord to his or her other tenants.

Repairs and alterations

Except as provided by law, the tenant may not make any repairs or alterations, including replacing any locks or security systems, without the prior consent of the landlord and, if applicable, the homeowners association. Regarding locks and security systems, if replaced, the tenant must provide the landlord with a key or instructions to safely disable the security system.

Iowa also includes language regarding the landlord’s right to maintain. If the tenant fails to perform one of his or her maintenance responsibilities which causes a noncompliance that materially affects health and safety and does not remedy it within seven days after notice from the landlord, and said noncompliance can be fixed with a repair, replacement, or cleaning, then the landlord may remedy or cause the noncompliance to be remedied in a workmanlike manner and submit an itemized bill for the cost of such remedy to be applied either to the next rent payment, or, if the agreement has finished, for immediate payment.

Landlord’s right to access

Much of a landlord’s need to enter their property is due to the landlord’s responsibilities for necessary or agreed repairs or alterations in property upkeep. Generally, except in an emergency in which the landlord requires immediate access, the landlord must provide 24 hours’ notice to their tenant before entering their property at a reasonable time. This time frame also applies to the landlord showing the premises to potential or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.