Rental Permit Requirements

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The City of Iowa City implemented changes to the rental permit process in an effort to preserve neighborhood stability.

State legislation went into effect on January 1, 2018, requiring the City to change the way it regulates the occupancy of rental properties. City Code previously limited occupancy to no more than three unrelated people in the same dwelling, which was critical in regulating density and overcrowding.

Browse the following sections for more information about rental permit requirements in Iowa City.

 2018 Rental Code Updates

The following safety requirements were also added:

  • Bedrooms
    • Rental property owners looking to add bedrooms will need to verify that the total bedroom square footage does not exceed 35 percent of the finished floor area of the dwelling. All new bedrooms must have a minimum of 100 sq. ft. of floor area and all of the smoke alarms must be interconnected.
  • Deadbolts are required on all unit doors
    • A deadbolt is defined as a lock where the bolt cannot be moved to the open position except by rotating the locked cylinder.
  • Existing duplexes must be permanently separated
    • Duplex units functioning as one single unit are not allowed.
  • Owner-occupied dwellings with more than one tenant are required to obtain a rental permit
  • Zoning change to restrict paving in backyards
    • This will limit the conversion of backyards into parking lots.


The frequency of rental permit inspections was increased. Revenue from these inspections will fund a portion of an additional Police Officer and additional Code Enforcement Officers tasked with addressing rental housing and nuisance violations like noise complaints and property maintenance standards.

As an existing policy, rental tenants, as well as single-family homeowners, must follow the City’s Property Management Policy and mow grass, shovel sidewalks, and pick up trash. Continued complaints will result in repercussions, including the possibility of suspending a landlord’s rental permit.

Enhanced rental permit sanctions will be enforced beginning in July 2018. The time period for City review will increase from 12 to 24 months.

Rental Permit Fees

  • Bedroom - $9
  • Certificate of Structural Compliance - 1st time fee - $40
  • Dwelling Unit - $17
  • Structure - $165