Iowa Law Limiting Occupancy Restrictions to go into Effect January 1, 2018

By Eric Christianson

House File 134 was signed into law on April 21 by Gov. Branstad limiting the ability of cities to set occupancy restrictions based on familial relationships. This law has appeared several times in various forms over the past few years in the Iowa legislature. It was opposed by many larger cities along with the Iowa League of Cities. It was supported by the Iowa ACLU as well as the Landlords of Iowa.

The bill amends Iowa Code 414.1 subsection 1, adding the bolded text:

a. For the purpose of promoting the health, safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community or for the purpose of preserving historically significant areas of the community, any city is hereby empowered to regulate and restrict the height, number of stories, and size of buildings and other structures, the percentage of lot that may be occupied, the size of yards, courts, and other open spaces, the density of population, and the location and use of buildings, structures, and land for trade, industry, residence, or other purposes.

b. A city shall not, after January 1, 2018, adopt or enforce any regulation or restriction related to the occupancy of residential rental property that is based upon the existence of familial or non familial relationships between the occupants of such rental property.

This change will mostly impact college towns which were actively trying to limit the number of students moving into historically single-family neighborhoods.

See coverage of the bill’s passage in the Des Moines Register and the Ames Tribune and Little Village to read more about how some communities have responded.

You can find a copy of the bill as well as its history here.



2 thoughts on “Iowa Law Limiting Occupancy Restrictions to go into Effect January 1, 2018

  1. This new law is a load of BS! These single family rental homes are destroying family oriented neighborhoods. Now they want to make the number of unrelated people living in one house unlimited. Nothing like having a bunch of people who have nothing invested in the neighborhood parting all night while you’re trying to keep babies and toddlers a sleep while that’s going on. Not to mention, vehicles in the street blocking driveways, because there are so many people living in one house and they all have their own car.. Quality of living takes a hit once again for the almighty dollar. Big surprise, Landlords of Iowa supported it, Shocker! Pack ’em in, make more per house, screw everyone else who is living in the neighborhood.

  2. Not limiting the number of non-related occupants living in a rental property unit would seem to fly in the face of the COVID 19 restrictions, mask recommendations and social distancing requirements. If this is such a dangerous virus, why would we allow unrestricted occupancy of non-related individuals? Just another indication of the arbitrary decision making by the people “in charge” who have very little idea what they are talking about. Too many people in a unit designed for a specific family size would seem to be an ideal situation to keep the virus spreading. How can we say it’s ok to have 7-9 non-related individuals in a 3 bedroom apartment is acceptable.

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