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Landlord-Tenant Law

When officers are called to a residence by a landlord or co-tenant and asked to remove someone from the property, what are they supposed to do? Should they immediately remove the person if he or she is trespassing? What if the person is a tenant at the residence? What if the landlord is requesting officers to remove the tenant? While performing their law enforcement duties, officers may encounter these types of situations, and others, where they need an understanding of the law regarding property rights in residences or places of business.


Landlord-tenant law is wide-ranging and complex and can vary from state to state. In Iowa, landlords generally have certain duties, including:


  • Providing the tenant with access to the rental property at the beginning of the tenancy term.

  • Obtaining the tenant’s consent before entering the rental property and providing reasonable notice before doing so.

  • Keeping the rental property habitable.


Landlords cannot turn off the utilities to a rental property or change the locks on the doors in response to a breach of the rental agreement by the tenant. Instead, landlords must go through the proper eviction process in court. Once the proper legal process is completed, the local Sheriff’s Department may assist with the eviction itself. Law enforcement officers should never help a landlord with “self-help” eviction outside of the legal process.


Interested in learning more?


PLS offers police online self-study legal training link: on a wide variety of practical issues to help police officers make good decisions in challenging situations.

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