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

New state legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2018, and requires 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: 

Rental Permit Fees: 

Structure - $165

Dwelling Unit - $17

Bedroom - $9

Certificate of Structural Compliance - 1st time fee - $40

2018 Rental Code Updates 

The following safety requirements have also been added. Deadbolts and the physical separation of duplex units. Restrictions on paving backyards, and bedroom additions are also part of the changes.

  • Bedroom requirements 

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. 

  • Existing duplexes must be permanently separated 

Duplex units functioning as one single unit are not allowed. 

  • 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. 

  • 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 will also increase. 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, and the time period for City review will increase from 12 to 24 months. 

Staff Contact 

For more information, contact Senior Housing Inspector Stan Laverman at 319-356-5135 or