Davis Brown Law Firm

On April 27, in her Proclamation, Governor Reynolds extended into May her previously issued moratorium on residential evictions and lease terminations, which was previously set to expire April 30. The Governor did not set a specific end date for the moratorium, but stated that she does not intend to extend the moratorium again after May 27, 2020. Thus, as of now, Iowa residential landlords should assume that the Iowa moratorium will continue until May 27, 2020. If that changes, we will let you know.

What is covered in the Iowa moratorium

Per her prior proclamations, Governor Reynolds implemented a moratorium on residential evictions (with some limited exceptions) and also suspended the termination of residential leases for nonpayment of rent, material non-compliance with the lease/rules, or otherwise under Iowa Code §§ 562A.27 or 562B.25 during the time the proclamations remain in effect and Iowa remains under the declared state of emergency (Iowa Moratorium Period).

Please review our previous post (now updated with the new extension) for our detailed analysis of all current Iowa and federal orders covering Iowa residential landlords, as well as an overview of the options that Iowa residential landlords have for non-paying tenants in April and May.

Reports of nonpayment

Understanding your options is important, as landlords nationwide have seen significant dips in rent payments during the COVID-19 crisis, with one nationwide survey reporting that as many as 25% of tenants paid no or only partial rent in April. Another survey, this of Midwest manufactured housing communities, shows a lower number of non-paying tenants at 13%, with collections for April 2020 rent in such communities reported at 87%.

After the moratorium ends

With the Governor indicating that the eviction moratorium will continue in force until May 27, 2020, landlords should think ahead to May 28. Many landlords have been proactive in offering rent deferment programs or were otherwise working with their tenants even prior to the original eviction moratorium proclamation. However, with the expiration of the eviction suspension now within viewing distance, landlords should consider what steps they will take and have that plan ready to implement upon the expiration of the Iowa Moratorium Period. 

Landlords should determine whether they will immediately move to evict delinquent tenants or whether they will continue to work with tenants during this time. In either case, there will be issues landlords need to have a firm grasp on, including the following: 

  • If a landlord wishes to enforce a nonpayment of rent, when and how will the case be heard? The Iowa Supreme Court’s prior administrative order delays most civil hearings until at least June 15, 2020, two weeks following the end of the Iowa Moratorium. Additionally, during the ongoing crisis, will the various counties permit telephonic hearings, or will the landlord’s employees be required to attend the hearings in person? 
  • If a landlord wishes to work with delinquent tenants, on the other hand, it is now more important than ever that landlords have a well-drafted enforceable forbearance or deferment agreement.
  • Finally, landlords still need to be mindful that the federal moratorium continues to prohibit evictions for nonpayment of rent for residential tenants in federally covered properties until July 25, 2020; we reviewed the Federal Moratorium and its implications in a previous post.

While there is some enforcement relief on the way for Iowa residential landlords at the end of May, there remains a myriad of questions as well. Having a plan is important. Your real estate attorney can assist you in evaluating your options, review your agreements with tenants, and develop a sustainable plan for your community’s future.