As of today, May 28, evictions are resuming in the state of Iowa, but landlords are now facing additional legal considerations, as well as a federal moratorium that still prevents some landlords from filing evictions. Below is a list of the major questions landlords should ask.
Does the CARES Act/federal moratorium apply to my rental property?
Numerous categories of rental properties are covered by the CARES Act. Our prior blog, as well as the new CARES Act Landlord Verification and instructions from the Iowa Supreme Court, set forth the analysis for determining the applicability of the CARES Act. Below are the covered property categories:
(1) Tenancy is/was subject to either a Section 8 or USDA Housing Choice voucher.
(2) Rental property is subject to a federal program, including but not limited to, one of the following (see question 3 of the CARES Act Landlord Verification for a complete list):
- Public housing
- Project Based Section 8 housing
- Section 202 elderly housing
- Section 811 housing for people with disabilities
- Section 236 multifamily rental housing
- Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program
- Other federal housing program
(3) Rental property is secured by a mortgage issued or guaranteed by one of the following:
- Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
- Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
- Veterans Administration (VA)
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) direct loan
- USDA guaranteed loan
(4) The landlord received a mortgage forbearance for the rental property from 3/27/2020 to 12/31/2020.
If the property is covered by the CARES Act, what does that mean for me?
If the rental property is a covered property under the CARES Act/federal moratorium, then during the 120-day moratorium period that expires on July 25, 2020, the landlord is prohibited from initiating any formal legal action for recovery of possession of the dwelling because of the tenant’s nonpayment of rent or other fees or charges. The landlord also continues to be prohibited from charging late fees, charges, or penalties for nonpayment of rent.
Conversely, the landlord may proceed with other types of eviction actions, including actions based upon a tenant’s noncompliance with the lease or rules. For further details, see our prior post.
If the property is not covered by the CARES Act, what does that mean for me?
If the rental property is not a covered property under the CARES Act, then all evictions, regardless of the grounds supporting the eviction, can be initiated as of May 28.
For newly commenced eviction actions, what pre-action notices are required?
All notices normally required under Iowa law to be provided to a tenant prior to commencement of an eviction action, are still required. This includes nonpayment notices, material breach notices, notices to quit, and other notices.
One question landlords need to answer is whether they will include in the Notice of Nonpayment of Rent and Termination of Tenancy one month’s worth of rent, as is typical, or rent for all months in which rent was not paid during Iowa’s eviction moratorium period (March 20, 2020 - May 27, 2020). Consult your attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation and the proper content of your Notice of Nonpayment of Rent and Termination of Tenancy.
When are courts setting hearings on newly filed evictions?
Most new eviction actions (except for clear and present danger evictions and other exceptions) will likely be set for hearing no earlier than July 13. Though, some counties may choose to recommence their eviction hearings prior to that date. See our prior blog for further details.
Do I need to file my eviction actions any differently?
Yes. Pursuant to the Iowa Supreme Court’s Order: In the Matter of Ongoing Provisions for COVID-19 Impact on Court Services, for all evictions based upon nonpayment of rent filed going forward, landlords must complete and file the new CARES Act Landlord Verification.
The Verification contains a list of Yes/No questions that a landlord must answer to verify that the CARES Act’s moratorium for nonpayment of rent evictions does not apply to the property and eviction at issue. The Court also provided helpful instructions to landlords regarding how to fill out the CARES Act Landlord Verification. Please consult your attorney for further information.
What other considerations should landlords keep in mind with newly commenced evictions?
Landlords should be knowledgeable of the language within the Supreme Court’s Order: In the Matter of Ongoing Provisions for COVID-19 Impact on Court Services relating to the scheduling of eviction hearings, hearing requirements (Iowa Code § 648.5); and 30-day peaceable possession bar (Iowa Code § 648.18). These topics were discussed in detail in our blog post earlier this week.
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