Being a Good Neighbor
Because University of Iowa students constitute such a large segment of the population living near the campus, the impact of student behavior has become a major concern to long-term residents. This means that you are a representative of the university student body. Your conduct not only reflects on other students, it shapes future housing decisions and restrictions on off-campus housing in Iowa City. While you may not be subject to all the restrictions that apply to living in the dorms, there are still rules for living off campus. Consider the costs associated with being a not-so-good neighbor.
Iowa City Code states that "any noise that interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property of the neighborhood" is forbidden. What does that mean? It means: be sensitive to the amount of noise you are making especially between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM when noise should not (according to the code) "cross a residential property boundary." You may be ticketed $100 for your first offense and $250 for your second. The price only goes up from there.
Real simple: don't park on the grass and don't block sidewalks or driveways with your car. Also, don't leave your car parked in the same spot on the street for more than 48 hours.
- Cars parked on private property must park on approved, hard surfaced spaces only. Parking on the grass is illegal and may result in a $250 ticket.
- Parking on gravel areas is approved ONLY if that area has been continuously maintained as gravel parking. Do not assume, however, that your gravel parking pad is legal. Check with the City by calling 356-5120 or 356-5130. The creation of gravel parking is not permitted.
- The police will ticket and may tow vehicles that are parked across public sidewalks and driveway entrances.
- The police may ticket any vehicles parked on the street that have not been moved in 48 hours.
- Parking in alleys is illegal.
Parking during the winter months
During the winter months you may be required to remove your car from streets during snow emergencies to allow snow plows through. Snow emergencies are declared by the City and announced on television, radio, and in newspapers. Rules for parking during snow emergencies are as follows:
- On all streets where parking is allowed on both sides, vehicles should park only on the even numbered side of the street on even days of the month after 8:00 AM.
- Park your car only the on odd numbered side of the street on odd days of the month after 8:00 AM.
- If you don't move your car during a designated snow emergency, the city may ticket and tow it.
Plowing is often necessary during the Chirstmas holiday and other breaks. If you plan to leave your car in town while you are away, consider moving it to an off-street location or risk having it towed.
If you are responsible for snow and ice removal be sure to take care of this in a prompt manner. It's also a good idea to find out whether your landlord provides a shovel and salt or ice remover before the winter season arrives.
- Snow or ice must be removed from the entire width of all sidewalks within twenty-four (24) hours.
- If snow or ice is left on the sidewalk for more than 24 hours, it may be removed by the City and a bill will be sent to the property owner. Again, this cost will be passed on to you.
- Repeat offenders may face additional fees.
- Snow and ice removed from sidewalks, driveways, or private property should NOT be deposited onto the street (in the public right-of-way).
City ordinances describe the kind of containers that may be used for storing garbage, where it can be stored, and when it can be picked up from the curb.
- If garbage and recycling are not properly bagged at the curb, they will not be picked up.
- If garbage is left at the curb for longer than a day, the City may remove the waste and bill the property owner. If you are responsible for moving trash or recycle bins for your rental unit, your landlord may deduct this fine from your security deposit.
Garbage by the bag: If your apartment relies on City trash removal, do not store loose trash in your outdoor garbage can. All trash should be bagged first and then deposited in the can. This makes sense since loose garbage is more likely to spill and blow around making it harder for City workers to do their job and keep the neighborhood clean.
Trash becomes a major issue when renters are moving in and out. Old ironing boards, broken TVs, worn out chairs, and other items accumulate in huge piles along the curbs in many neighborhoods, especially in August. Believe it or not, the guys who pick up the garbage don't just pick up any old heap of trash left on the curb. If it is not in a garbage bag or properly sorted in a recycling bin it is not going anywhere without an additional charge. This means the City will charge your landlord and your landlord may deduct the charge from your security deposit. That heap of junk that you were too tired to recycle, bag up, or donate to Goodwill may cost you $250 or more.
Renters need to be aware of the impact that their behavior is having on the neighborhood. When you choose to live off campus in Iowa City, you take on some responsibilities to control the sort of activity that happens in and around your apartment. In short this means that are required to preserve the safety and peace of the neighborhood. A new City ordinance that makes landlords and tenants responsible for repeat nuisances and disruptive or criminal behavior. This new ordinance makes it easier for neighbors to report nuisances, so extra attention is being focused on students who do not comply.
Just what is a nuisance?
Here is an example: You’re a fun-loving person, so you throw a couple of big parties - just 20 or 30 people. At one party a couple of your guests get out of hand, shouting in the front yard, and you are cited for a disorderly house. Another party runs late, so you’re tired the next morning and don't get around to picking up all the plastic cups left around the yard until your neighbors complain. And sometimes when it’s rainy or you come home late at night and there’s no place to park on the street, you park in the driveway and block the sidewalk or you block your neighbors driveway - just a few times. Your apartment is listed as just a two bedroom, but you had a friend from highschool that needed to crash someplace for just a month or two until he found work. You let him sleep in the living room - your roommate doesn’t mind. Oh, and maybe a once or twice your sidewalk didn’t get shoveled right away, but there was only a couple of inches of snow and it was pretty packed down. Guess what? If you are not a nuisance already you are fast on your way to becoming one and could face penalties from the City. Not to mention you now have the neighbors ticked off, and the next time you throw a party they’re going to call the police right away.
If a property becomes a "problem property" to the neighborhood, you will be required to attend a compliance meeting involving the City, your landlord/s, and other tenants involved. A schedule of sanctions may be enforced. While many of these sanctions are imposed on the landlord - such as restrictions on his or her rental permit - this may ultimately have serious consequences for the tenant (you) - such as eviction. Most leases state that if tenants violate city codes they are also in violation of the terms of their lease - that is grounds for eviction.
Excessive noise, disorderly conduct, and failure to properly remove garbage and snow are just a few nuisance violations for which a renter might be cited.
The aforementioned information is provided as a general guide and is not intended to provide specific advice. Readers should satisfy themselves that the information is accurate for their purposes and use.