Judge: Iowa City rental lease clauses are illegal

A judge says that numerous provisions commonly included in Iowa City apartment leases are illegal because they unfairly shift costs to tenants.

Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Douglas Russell is a major victory for the Iowa City Tenants’ Project, which is bringing class-action lawsuits against landlords on behalf of thousands of current and former tenants.

Russell ruled that landlords cannot automatically charge tenants for carpet cleaning when their leases are up, cannot charge tenants for damage caused by others to common areas and cannot remove the landlord’s liability for injury and damage to tenants. He says all of those provisions are illegal under Iowa law.

The size of the class and amount of damages would be determined later.

Tenants’ Project attorney Christopher Warnock said Friday he expects an appeal.