Tenant Law in Iowa
The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Mason City, Iowa can occasionally be a touchy one. Landlords and tenants are not always clear on their respective rights and obligations.
Both parties to a landlord/tenant relationship are controlled by an extensive body of laws and regulations, defining their legal rights and obligations.
Landlord's Rights in Mason City, IA
The most important and most noticeable right that a landlord has is the right to timely payment of rent from the tenant. This, of course, means that the tenant has a duty to pay rent.
Landlords also have a right to be free from damage to the rented unit. Tenants are expected not to damage their dwellings, intentionally or negligently. Landlords can deduct the cost of repairs from the tenant's security deposit. In general, tenants are not accountable for damage resulting from ordinary wear and tear.
Tenant's Rights in Mason City, IA
Much like landlords have a right to get paid for the service they provide, tenants have a right to get what they pay for: a suitable place to reside. In Mason City, Iowa, all residential rental agreements carry an "implied warranty of habitability." This means that a landlord implicitly guarantees that any residence he or she rents will be fit for human habitation. In general, an unit will be automatically deemed uninhabitable if it lacks running water, electricity, heat, and acceptable protection from the elements. There are various more factors that can be considered, as well, but those are some of the basics.
Additionally, tenants are entitled to common areas that are reasonable safe and sanitary. The common areas of an apartment building would contain lobbies, laundry rooms, stairwells, hallways, and fire escapes (essentially, any part of the building which all of the tenants can access). In Mason City, Iowa, these areas must be kept reasonably clean and safe.
Under the laws of Iowa, and the United States, discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, or gender is strictly prohibited. Additionally, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords must not discriminate against renters on the basis of any physical disability. They also have to authorize the renter to make reasonable modifications to their apartment, to make it more accessible. Generally, landlords are only required to allow relatively minor and reversible modifications, and tenants cannot compel them to remodel the building, for example. Also, once the tenant leaves, the landlord can bill the tenant for the costs of restoring the apartment to its original condition.
Lastly, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords typically must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Mason City, Iowa Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, chances are that you want to prevent conflict. But if you do end up in a seemingly irresolvable conflict with the other party, a Mason City, Iowa attorney can help you protect your rights.