Monday, November 23, 2009

Rare Victory For Renters in Iowa

A recently delivered opinion of the Iowa Supreme Court does a bit to redress the power inequity between landlords and tenants that's worth a nod.

We here in the Dougloid Towers are not unsympathetic to the problems of tenants, as we grew up in apartments, and lived in apartments and rental properties until fairly recently. It's worth remarking that the single best reason for owning your own place is that you can drive by the landlord's crib as many times as you like making obscene gestures and pig type oinking and grunting. "F**k 'em if they can't take a joke!" as my old crew chief Wayne Hawkins used to say.

In War Eagle Village Apartments v. Plummer, no. 07-1217 (Nov. 20, 2009), a tenant was short on the rent and the landlord instituted an eviction proceeding. The landlord followed the procedure, sending a certified letter to the tenant which she never received, and a hearing was had a week later-at which point a default judgment and a writ of removal were issued.

Plummer appealed, contending that the statutory scheme embodied in Iowa Code in Iowa Code section 562A.29A was a violation of due process. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the scheme established was insufficient to give a person notice and an opportunity to be heard.

The Court states, "There is no set of facts under which the FED statutory notice scheme could be found to provide adequate notice. When receipt in time to meaningfully respond is unlikely, a statutory scheme that deems service complete upon mailing if the notice is by its very terms not reasonably calculated to give adequate notice to tenants that a hearing on their eviction has been scheduled. Given the statutory requirement that a hearing be held no later than seven days fron the order scheduling a hearing, Iowa Code section 562A.29A(2) is unconstitutional on its face."

image courtesy of the Independent.


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