I believe it’s time to support use of a #LegalIowaLease

The Residential Rentals Industry has evolved significantly since the enactment of the nationally recognized “Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act” of 1974(1).  In substance, the work of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, was largely adopted by the Iowa General Assembly in 1978.

For most publications of IaREIA & the Iowa Landlord Association, I prefer to use “we” as often as possible, when referencing decisions that have been either by the association or on behalf of the association.

Unfortunately for this post, which includes significant preference for using a legal lease (e.g. our Iowa Residential Rental Agreement pictured here), I must speak for myself and approximately 50% of our members.  These include those who use our “Best-in-Class in Iowa” lease, plus most who served “Forms Task Force”, our legal counsel of 25+ years and principal author of our lease, Mark V. Hanson, J.D. and one of our newest trainers for the IaREIA School of Real Estate, Christopher Warnock, J.D.

Currently, just over 27% of our membership (~= to 100 landlords and property managers) have adopted use of this lease, during the past 5 years.

As of Feb 13, 2018, two bills are winding their way through the Iowa General Assembly — HSB633 (now HF2384) and SSB3142, companion bills which originated in both chambers — recommending identical change to Iowa Code.   SSB3142 passed out of the subcommittee but with recommendation for amendment, which, unfortunately was never completed.  It died before reaching the full Senate Judiciary.

Therefore, the bill which survived the first funnel is HF2384 which currently has no amendment.   As written, it advocates Landlords should be allowed to include illegal provisions in their lease as long as those provisions are not enforced.

The proposed law would make changes to I.C. 562A.11 and 562B.11.  As Executive Director and registered Lobbyist for both Iowa Landlord Association and IaREIA, I have registered against the bill.  I would be for the bill, with adoption of an amendment (similar to) the proposed amendment, for which I believe the association should seek support.

Otherwise, I hope the bill dies during Floor Debate.  Here’s why.

I may be out on a limb, but I believe it’s time the Residential Rentals Industry in Iowa began to promote the right of a Landlord and a Tenant to have a #LegalIowaLease.  I’m not saying it has to be ours, though many of our best members believe we have a great lease, just that whatever lease landlords use should contain no prohibited provisions.

We are not alone.  We have support of the Iowa Attorney General and the Iowa State Bar Association.

Sometimes, users of a lease don’t know a provision is illegal, which is why Christopher Warnock, J.D. (Iowa Tenants Project) recommended to me, that punitive damages be removed from this section.

I have whole-heartedly promoted the use of a legal lease since the day I accepted responsibility of management of the ILA, Jan 1, 2012, and applaud Char Fritzel of Core Corp for being the first purchaser of our early version, nearly five years ago –  9/23/2013.

I believe a Landlord and Tenant should be able to enter into a Rental Agreement with a high level of trust that what the parties have agreed to is in fact a legally enforceable agreement.   This is why adhering to such a standard is part of our Code of Ethics.  I am personally glad the National Real Estate Investors Association makes it mandatory that all Chapters require members to conduct their businesses ethically, and to approve of our Code of Ethics.

Our Republic is founded on principals of free enterprise that significantly enhance business’ ability to operate with the “Speed of Trust”.   Without trust, many relationships never start, but worse agreements fall apart and the parties often wind up in court.  Seldom do our members benefit much from spending a lot of time in court.

I for one, will continually work to ensure our members operate their businesses with integrity and a willingness to honor principles which promote trust; particularly between landlords or property managers, and their tenants.  These relationships can easily be tested, strained, and challenged because we’re dealing with what people believe is “their home”.

I believe building a Landlord/Tenant relationship begins by the signing of a lease.  And the mutually beneficial legitimate objects of that business relationship are most easily maintained when the agreement is known by both parties, to be legally sustainable.  In my opinion, using a lease which contains illegal provisions is not a business practice which this association will ever endorse while I remain its Executive Director.

Andrew Lietzow, MBA – Exec. Dir. & Lobbyist
IaREIA & Iowa Landlord Association

676 North St. Clair Street, Suite 1700
Chicago, IL 60611