Iowa landlords use a Rental Application to vet prospective tenants before entering into an Iowa rental agreement.
Property owners generally ask questions regarding an applicant’s employment, finances, credit history, criminal background, and rental history, including any previous evictions.
The goal is to create a well-written rental application that Iowa landlords can use to screen out risky tenants before offering a lease agreement.
The 2021 Iowa Census estimated that more than 28 percent of Iowans rent a house, apartment, mobile home, or another dwelling from a landlord as their primary residence.
Iowa Rental Application Fees
Along with requiring the completion of a rental application, would-be tenants typically pay a rental application fee that covers the expenses a landlord incurs when they process the application, including running background checks.
Iowa law has no provisions limiting how much you can charge for a rental application fee.
It’s up to individual rental management companies and landlords to decide the amount to charge and if those fees are non-refundable, regardless of whether they select an applicant for the rental unit.
The fee should be approximate to the cost of processing the rental application.
State laws specify landlords may not charge more than two months’ rent for an Iowa security deposit. You are also permitted to charge a separate pet security deposit.
Landlords may collect no deposit for certified service or assistance animals. Iowa state statute stipulates that you must put any security deposits collected into a separate, FDIC-insured, interest-bearing account.
While no law obliges you to provide a security deposit receipt, it is best practice to do so anyway.
Authorization for Iowa Rental Background Check
The rental screening process includes several background checks:
Criminal Background Check
The purpose of a criminal background check is to uncover arrests or convictions, especially those of a violent nature or involving the production or sale of illegal drugs, or crimes against children.
Credit Background Check
Looking into an applicant’s financial history can provide valuable information about their finances, employment history, poor credit scores, or past bankruptcies, signaling a high-risk renter.
While certain background checks may not require written consent, the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates that you must have written permission to conduct a credit check.
Our Iowa Rental Application includes a consent statement from the applicant, or you can use our separate background check authorization form to obtain the consent needed for credit checks.
Eviction History Background Check
Learn about any past legal actions against an applicant due to unpaid rent or failure to vacate a property after proper notice. Eviction searches go back seven years.
How To Conduct an Iowa Eviction Record Search
You can save time and money by running your eviction records search through the Iowa Courts Online Electronic Docket Record Search.
If you require more detailed information, you may be required to subscribe for a small monthly fee.
- Click on “Case Search” under the “Trial Court” header
- Be sure you select the “Name Search” tab at the top
- Enter the applicant’s last and first names
- Select “all” the Role, County and Case Type prompts and click on “Search”
Other Resources for Iowa Landlords
- Iowa Fair Housing Laws. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission provides a comprehensive guide to housing discrimination in Iowa.
- Iowa Sex Offender Registry. The registry offers an aid to identify and locate individuals in Iowa convicted of a sexual offense that requires registration. There is a national registry as well.
How to Write a Rental Application
Follow the steps below to write a rental application in Iowa.
Step 1 – Fill in Property Address Information
Write the date of the rental application and the address of the rental property.
Step 2 – Collect Basic Rental Applicant Information
This section provides the applicant(s) basic identifying information about themselves.
Step 3 – Collect Applicant’s Residence History
In this section, the applicant(s) provides their residence history including addresses, dates of residency, and reasons for moving.
Step 4 – Gather Applicant’s Employment History
This section is for the applicant(s) to provide current and previous employment information and other sources of income.
Step 5 – Gather Applicant’s Financial History
This section is for the applicant(s) to provide bank account and credit card information.
Step 6 – Collect References
The applicant(s) provides personal references’ names and contact information in this section.
Step 7 – Additional Questions and Verification
This section contains additional questions to determine more information about the applicant such as smoking or pets.
Sample Iowa Rental Application Form
Below is an example of a standard Iowa rental application form.
You may download this free form or use our document builder to create a customized Iowa rental application that covers all the details unique to your real estate needs.