It should be remembered that the information contained on this site is not offered as legal advice. Professional advisers including attorneys, accountants, real-estate and insurance agents should be consulted for advice with your individual question.
Generally, the questions that tenants have are specific in nature. Every question that arises from specific situations should be handled in accordance to the agreements by the Landlord and Tenant. Communication between the Landlord and Tenant is key to resolving questions. The questions we hear most often (not in any order) from tenants are;
Q: What do I do if I cannot pay all my rent when it is due?
A: First, contact the landlord or property manager to see if some temporary arrangement can be reached. Remember this is only temporary. They cannot treat you any differently from any other tenant. Do not avoid the landlord! Be honest and up front. Remember, the rental agreement is a legal contract. The landlord may or may not have a policy of working with the tenant who is late in paying rent.
Q: Can I sublet my apartment?
A: Not unless it is specified in your rental agreement or lease.
Q: I just received a three day notice to cure default and quit. What happened?
A: You received the notice because you owe the landlord money, either for rent or utilities (or both) that you agreed to pay in your rental agreement. If you don't pay the amount stated on the notice within the three days, you will have eviction proceedings initiated against you. This will reflect on you credit report and this information becomes public and is accessible by other landlords.
Q: I want to move out before the rental agreement is up. Can I get my deposit back?
A: That depends on (1) condition of the unit, (2) the cost to re-rent the unit, (3) and whether or not there is lost rent because of the breaking of the rental agreement. The landlord must make the effort to re-rent the unit, but if they cannot rent it right away, you may be liable for the remainder of the rent.
Q: Can I use my deposit for the last month's rent?
A: No. It is a security deposit. The only exception is if it is spelled out in the lease or rental agreement that it may be used for that purpose.
Q: What, if any maintenance am I responsible for in my apartment?
A: This should be spelled out in the rental agreement. Normally you would be responsible for minor things such as replacing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries.
Q: I want to move my friend in with me. What prevents me from doing that?
A: Your rental agreement. It stipulates who are the legal occupants. Check with the landlord or manager about adding new tenants to the rental agreement. If they are allowed, they will have to go through the same procedure you did. Many municipalities have building codes that restrict the number of people in rental property.
Q: I'm late with my rent. Do I have to pay a late fee?
A: Yes, if that is stipulated in the rental agreement. The maximum allowed by law in Iowa is $40 a month and no more that $10 per day. If you owe late fees be sure to pay them along with the rent the following month. If you pay the rent and not the late fees, part of the rental payment will be applied to the late fees and not the rent.
Q: What is a Seven Day Notice to Cure Default?
A: This is a notice relating to noncompliance: either a noncompliance with the rental agreement or a noncompliance materially affecting health or safety. If the noncompliance is not remedied (corrected) within seven days of receiving this notice the rental agreement is terminated and eviction procedures normally follow.
Q: What is a Notice of Termination and Notice to Quit?
A: This notice effectively terminates the rental agreement in three days from receipt of the notice. There is no cure for this notice. It is a demand to vacate and surrender the property within the three day period. This notice is given to a tenant when there has been a situation that presents a 'clear and present danger' to the health or safety of other tenants, to the landlord or to their employees or agents.
These situations may include: physical assault, threat of physical assault, illegal use of a firearm or other weapon, or possession of a controlled substance. When a tenant receives this notice, a copy will normally go to the local police department as well.