The Dance of the Tenants and Landlords

| January 15, 2016
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Spring is a busy time for all types of real estate.  Buyers and sellers are actively working to buy and sell property.  The rental season moves in step with the buying and selling season.  Many who are renting look to become home owners. Those of you renting may be looking for a change of housing, others are new to the job market and looking for their first place to live on their own.

The Iowa Legal Aid puts out a summary of the Iowa Landlord and Tenant Law.  To read it in its entirety you can go to their website: www.iowalegalaid.org.  

My take away for both landlords and tenants is to follow the Golden Rule.

Landlord -      Follow the building and housing codes that affect health and safety.

  • Make repairs to keep the house or apartment in a livable condition.
  • Be sure mechanicals are in good working order: water, hot and cold, and heating source.
  • Keep any common areas clean and safe
  • Appliances operate as intended.  
  • Plumbing and electrical in good, safe, working order
  • Always give 24 hour notice to entering the premise unless an emergency, i.e. water running into the downstairs apartment, smoke, or the smell of, or flames, are shooting out of the unit, power is out in the how property and electrical service is in a particular unit.  If you need to enter without approval, knock, announce yourself as you move through the unit. If no emergency detected back out.
  • Be sure deposits are returned within 30 days of a tenant’s move out. A written note w/receipts needs to accompany any reduction of deposit.

Tenant(s) -     Abide by the same building and housing codes that affect health and safety.

  • Keep your living area clean and dispose of garbage and recycling properly.
  • Do not damage or abuse the property. If you have an accident, own up to the damage.
  • Avoid disturbing your neighbor’s peace and quiet.
  • Honor your lease – only those names on the lease get to live in the apartment or house.
  • Pay your rent on time. Withholding rent is not a proper incentive to correct a deficiency.
  • Carry renter’s insurance.
  • Provide a forwarding address to your landlord for return of deposit after proof of any/all utilities being paid you are responsible for.

Landlord and Tenant(s)

  • If a deficiency is identified treat each other with respect, i.e. tenant, call or email your landlord and identify the problem, and allow them time to inspect and correct the problem.  Landlord, promptly respond to the call or email and investigate the deficiency, and take proper/timely steps to correct the deficiency, repairing or replacing.
  • Landlord, if you believe the tenant(s) are not abiding by the terms of the lease, check your condescending tone at the front door, and with the respect you wish to be shown, share with them how you believe they are not abiding by the terms of the lease.

Everyone has rights.  The first right is to be treated with respect.  Treating each other with respect goes a long way in a successful landlord – tenant relationship.

Respectfully submitted,

Kevin Kolbe

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