Iowa Small Claims – eFiling to Comply with EDMS Judicial System
Today (Dec 29), we received notice from Legal Counsel that our response to the ISC Complaint was not accepted. We got a “smack down” from the ISC Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law and until further notice, we are no longer able to help members with eFiling. The decision from the ISC (Iowa Supreme Court) Commission on UPL is that we must “Cease and Desist”, effective Dec 25, 2014,
In the meantime, while we contemplate what level of appeal we will take, we post below the following resources. Click here for FED – Pro Se Filing Instructions to use the new eFile System (EDMS) required by Iowa Courts. Small Claims documents for efiling are available at www.IowaCourts.Gov and you will need to understand the following:
- Which documents you need to use, and what you will say in the statement labeled “State Basis of Demand”.
- What goes in the blanks for Plaintiff and Defendant, and what you have stated in the 3-Day Notice to Pay Unpaid Rent.
- We no longer setup efiling accounts but there are extensive instructions at the efiling Home Page.
Pursuant to this letter, we (the Association) are no longer offering what has been defined as “Cyberspace Scrivener” services — as a legal entity working for another. Andrew Lietzow, however, appears to be able, to personally provide services as a scrivener to legal entities as an employee — that’s what the letter states is the job of a “filing agent”, to serve as a direct employee is okay, just not as an association.
So, while we work out what’s what, unless the title to the property is in the name of a legal entity, you cannot hire anyone else to file your “Pro Se” small claims paperwork, electronically or otherwise. (In 60 counties in Iowa, it is now MANDATORY small claims actions – evictions, petitions for money judgments, dismissals, etc. – be filed electronically).
Therefore, you must either hire an attorney or you will need to familiarize yourself with the forms, complete the forms online as a Pro Se litigant, then submit the forms electronically if you are the filing Plaintiff. Once a filing is approved, the Clerk of Court will supply a court date, place and time. Good luck with all of that but … you’re on your own!
BACKGROUND: In October, someone filed a complaint with the “Iowa Supreme Court: Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law”, against our providing this service as a “Filing Agent”, which was strictly as a membership benefit. Though we believe there was no merit for the complaint, we must abide by the request of the court to “Cease and Desist”. We expect to be appealing this decision, through the DOJ and FTC, but that could take years for any positive progress.
We see this as a “restraint of trade” issue and against the Shermin Anti-Trust Act, yet unless someone of higher authority than the ISC agrees, we must remain constrained to educational services only.
Therefore, the Iowa Real Estate Investors Association (a/k/a Iowa Landlord Association) is no longer offering eFiling services for FED’s or Money Judgments, the two most common civil actions for Landlords.
A principal priority of the Iowa Landlord Association (d/b/a IaREIA) is to help educate our users about regulatory compliance issues. We do not offer legal advice. It’s a fine line but access to required forms and instructions is essential when a Landlord needs to start an eviction, file for a money judgment, seek to collect back rent through garnishments, conduct a Judgment Debtor’s Exam, etc.
While the Iowa Court System makes all required documents available online (see links above), with extensive instructions for Pro Se filers, it is the opinion of your Executive Director that the consumer is not well served by this decision. We have always recommended that if your case is complicated, perhaps with extensive damages, or your supporting documentation is not well-organized, Plaintiffs should contact an attorney.
We have a Vendor Partner who offers legal services — Mark Hanson, P.C. — and you can find his contact info here. Mark Hanson is well-versed on the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Law (I.C. 562a) in the State of Iowa and we have a Process Service Company, as well.
See our online Vendor Partner list for more info.
NOTE #1: We frequently have an attorney or authority on this subject providing education to our members at educational seminars and meetings. This is a significant benefit of membership. Of course, what we truly strive for is to help our members stay out of court in the first place. May we be so bold as to recommend thorough background checks on applicants?
NOTE #2: What we used to do was very similar to what the folks did at
My Florida Eviction™
though we do/did not serve the Original Notice for F.E.D. and we do/did not manage property. We will continue to serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Unpaid Rent, but prefer the Landlord or Property Manager does this.
This service we will only provide if you’re in an absolute pickle and there is a charge. Call the office or email us for more info. Check out the video which explains a how other states are handling efiling.
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