Iowa Supreme Court Curtails Landlord Power

May 6, 2016

Iowa tenants scored a victory at the state Supreme Court today. As a result, landlords have less power to withhold security deposits, or shift repair costs onto tenants.

The court ruled that landlords cannot charge automatic fees. And they must pay for all repairs, as long damages aren’t caused by tenants.

The case arose in 2011 after a University of Iowa student sued the Iowa City rental agency Apartments Downtown in small claims court.

In addition to an automatic carpet cleaning charge Elyse De Stefano believed was illegal, she said she shouldn’t have to pay for damage done by burglars.   

Apartments Downtown had provisions in De Stefano’s lease stating it could do both, but the state Supreme Court disagreed, finding those clauses violated Iowa code.

Landlords have warned rents could increase if the court ruled favor of the defendant.