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LANDLORD TENANT LITIGATION 2010 – 2015

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR LANDLORDS

LANDLORD TENANT LITIGATION 2010 – 2015

During the past five years there have been a number of decided court cases that affect the way that landlords do business and the contain of their leases. See the ‘RESULTS SO FAR” below for some examples. Also there are a number of cases currently in the court system, that when decided, could require additional changes for landlords. The Landlords of Iowa have provided a summary of what is presently happening in the Iowa courts. This information is being provided to you as a members of Landlords of Linn County because I believe you as a landlords need to be aware of this information.

Landlords of Iowa October 2015

THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. DO NOT ACT SOLELY ON THE CONTENTS IN THIS NOTICE. YOU SHOULD OBTAIN CAPABLE LEGAL ADVICE BASED UPON YOUR OWN CIRCUMSTANCES.

LANDLORD TENANT LITIGATION 2010 – 2015

• Six District Court lawsuits – class actions – in Johnson County

• One District Court lawsuit in Story County
• Several small claims in Johnson County
• Four cases currently on appeal to Iowa Supreme Court
• one small claim argued to court on September 17, decision 30-120 days

• another small claim appeal pending, not yet scheduled for argument to the Court

• Southgate case – appeal filed in August 2015
• Apartments Downtown – appeal filed in August 2015
• Four cases pending in Johnson County
• two were appealed by landlords – Iowa court of Appeals affirmed further proceedings pending

• two not yet ruled on by District Court

RESULTS SO FAR

• landlords cannot charge fees to tenants – examples
• sublease fee
• bad check fee
• pet fee

• lock out fees
• maintenance if the landlord or in house staff does the work (only parts and materials)

• landlord may be liable for having provisions in lease, even if not enforced

• class actions may include current tenants and tenants in last
5 – 10 years

WHERE DOES THIS COME FROM?

• Prohibited provisions in Chapter 562A of the Code of Iowa 562A.11 Prohibited provisions in rental agreements.
1. A rental agreement shall not provide that the tenant or landlord:

a. Agrees to waive or to forego rights or remedies under this chapter provided that this restriction shall not apply to rental agreements covering single family residences on land assessed as agricultural land and located in an unincorporated area;

b. Authorizes a person to confess judgment on a claim arising out of the rental agreement;

c. Agrees to pay the other party’s attorney fees; or

d. Agrees to the exculpation or limitation of any liability of the other party arising under law or to indemnify the other party for that liability or the costs connected therewith.

2. A provision prohibited by subsection 1 included in a rental agreement is unenforceable. If a landlord willfully uses a rental agreement containing provisions known by the landlord to be prohibited, a tenant may recover actual damages sustained by the tenant and not more than three months’ periodic rent and reasonable attorney fees.

• Unconscionable provisions 562A.7 Unconscionability.

1. If the court, as a matter of law, finds that:

a. A rental agreement or any provision of it was unconscionable when made, the court may refuse to enforce the agreement, enforce the remainder of the agreement without the unconscionable provision, or limit the application of an unconscionable provision to avoid an unconscionable result.

• Actual Damages
Example – there are other somewhat similar sections 562A.32 Remedy after termination.
If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord may have a claim for possession and for rent and a separate claim for actual damages for breach of the rental agreement and reasonable attorney fees as provided in section 562A.27.

TAKE AWAYS

• You may have lease provisions you didn’t know were “illegal”
• The Courts have certified four class actions
• The class could include tenants for the last 5-10 years
• you can be subject to punitive damages and attorneys fees if you willfully use a rental agreement containing provisions known to be prohibited

• the current decisions can and will be used against you
• the cases on appeal may make the bad certain (and you liable), or might make it better for landlords

• you had better look long and hard at your leases

THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. DO NOT ACT SOLELY ON THE CONTENTS IN THIS NOTICE. YOU SHOULD OBTAIN CAPABLE LEGAL ADVICE BASED UPON YOUR OWN CIRCUMSTANCES.

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2 thoughts on “LANDLORD TENANT LITIGATION 2010 – 2015”

    1. Jim,
      This is all very new to us. Right now the Landlords of Linn County do not have any lease language suggestions or damage deposit letters to refer to you. We are working to get some answers to these new fee limitations. Our November 12th meeting speakers are two local real estate lawyers and our January 14, 2016 meeting speaker is going to be a Linn County Small Claims Court Magistrate. I suggest you attend both of these meetings for you to get additional information on this issue. Thanks.
      Dick Rehman, President/Treasurer
      Landlords of Linn Country
      2505 Brookland Dr. NE
      Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
      https://landlordsoflinncounty.org

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