Iowa Code Chapter 657A
Abandoned or unsafe buildings
Abatement by rehabilitation
As used in this chapter, unless context requires otherwise:
1. "Abandoned" or "abandonment" means that a building has remained vacant and has
been in violation of the housing code of the city in which the property is located or the
housing code applicable in the county in which the property is located if outside the
limits of a city for a period of six consecutive months.
2. "Abate" or "abatement" in connection with property means the removal or correction
of hazardous conditions deemed to constitute a public nuisance or the making of
improvements needed to effect a rehabilitation of the property consistent with
maintaining safe and habitable conditions over the remaining useful life of the property.
However, the closing or boarding up of a building or structure that is found to be a public
nuisance is not an abatement of the nuisance.
3. "Building" means a building or structure located in a city or outside the limits of a
city in a county, which is used or intended to be used for residential purposes, and
includes a building or structure in which some floors may be used for retail stores, shops,
salesrooms, markets, or similar commercial uses, or for offices, banks, civic
administration activities, professional services, or similar business or civic uses, and other
floors are used, designed, or intended to be used for residential purposes.
4. "Interested person" means an owner, mortgagee, lienholder, or other person that
possesses an interest of record or an interest otherwise provable in property that becomes
subject to the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to this chapter, the city in which the
property is located, the county in which the property is located if the property is located
outside the limits of a city, and an applicant for the appointment as receiver pursuant to
5. "Neighboring landowner" means an owner of property which is located within five
hundred feet of property that becomes subject to the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to
6. "Owner" includes a person who is purchasing property by land installment contract
or under a duly executed purchase contract.
7. "Public nuisance" means a building that is a menace to the public health, welfare, or
safety, or that is structurally unsafe, unsanitary, or not provided with adequate safe
egress, or that constitutes a fire hazard, or is otherwise dangerous to human life, or that in
relation to the existing use constitutes a hazard to the public health, welfare, or safety by
reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, or abandonment.
85 Acts, ch 222, §1; 86 Acts, ch 1059, §1; 96 Acts, ch 1204, §27
1. A petition for abatement under this chapter may be filed in the district court of the
county in which the property is located, by the city in which the property is located, by
the county if the property is located outside the limits of a city, by a neighboring
landowner, or by a duly organized nonprofit corporation which has as one of its goals the
improvement of housing conditions in the county or city in which the property in
question is located. Service on the owner shall be by personal service or by certified mail,
or if service cannot be made by either method, by posting the notice in a conspicuous
place on the building and by publication.
2. If a petition filed pursuant to this chapter alleges that a building is abandoned or is in
a dangerous or unsafe condition, the city, county, if the property is located outside the
limits of a city, neighboring landowner, or nonprofit corporation may apply for an
injunction requiring the owner of the building to correct the condition or to eliminate the
condition or violation. The court shall conduct a hearing at least twenty days after written
notice of the application for an injunction and of the date and time of the hearing is
served upon the owner of the building. Notice of the hearing shall be served in the
manner provided in subsection 1.
3. If the court finds at the hearing that the building is abandoned or is in a dangerous or
unsafe condition, the court shall issue an injunction requiring the owner to correct the
condition or to eliminate the violation, or another order that the court considers necessary
or appropriate to correct the condition or to eliminate the violation.
4. In a proceeding under this chapter, if the court makes the finding described in
subsection 3 and additionally finds that the building in question is a public nuisance and
that the owner of the building has been afforded reasonable opportunity to correct the
dangerous or unsafe condition found or to eliminate the violation found but has refused or
failed to do so, the judge shall cause notice of the findings to be served upon the owner,
each mortgagee or other lienholder of record, and other known interested persons, and
shall order the persons served to show cause why a receiver should not be appointed to
perform work and to furnish material that reasonably may be required to abate the public
nuisance. The notice shall be served in the manner provided in subsection 1.
5. In a proceeding under this chapter, if the court determines the building is not
abandoned or is not in a dangerous or unsafe condition, the court shall dismiss the
petition and may require the petitioner to pay the owner's reasonable attorney fees
85 Acts, ch 222, §2; 87 Acts, ch 113, §1, 2; 96 Acts, ch 1204, §28; 2004 Acts, ch 1165, §9 , 11
Subsection 6 stricken
657A.3 Interested persons - opportunity to abate public nuisance.
1. Before appointing a receiver to perform work or to furnish material to abate a public
nuisance under this chapter, the court shall conduct a hearing at which the court shall
offer mortgagees of record, lienholders of record, or other known interested persons in
the order of priority of interest in title, the opportunity to undertake the work and to
furnish the materials necessary to abate the public nuisance. The court shall require the
person selected to demonstrate the ability to undertake promptly the work required and to
post security for the performance of the work. All amounts expended by the person
toward abating the public nuisance are a lien on the property if the expenditures were
approved in advance by the judge and if the person desires the lien. The lien shall bear
interest at the rate provided for judgments pursuant to section 535.3 , and shall be payable
upon terms approved by the judge. If a certified copy of the court order that approved the
expenses and the terms of payment for the lien, and a description of the property in
question are filed for record within thirty days of the date of issuance of the order in the
office of the county recorder of the county in which the property is located, the lien has
the same priority as the mortgage of a receiver as provided in section 657A.7 .
2. If the court determines at the hearing conducted pursuant to subsection 1, that no
interested person can undertake the work and furnish the materials required to abate the
public nuisance, or if the court determines at any time after the hearing that an interested
person who is undertaking corrective work pursuant to this section cannot or will not
proceed, or has not proceeded with due diligence, the court may appoint a receiver to take
possession and control of the property. The receiver shall be appointed in the manner
provided in section 657A.4 .
85 Acts, ch 222, §3
657A.4 Appointment of receiver.
After conducting a hearing pursuant to section 657A.3 , the court may appoint a
receiver to take possession and control of the property in question. A person shall not be
appointed as a receiver unless the person has first provided the court with a viable
financial and construction plan for the rehabilitation of the property in question and has
demonstrated the capacity and expertise to perform the required work in a satisfactory
manner. The appointed receiver may be a financial institution that possesses an interest of
record in the property, a nonprofit corporation that is duly organized and exists for the
primary purpose of improving housing conditions in the county or city in which the
property in question is located, or any person deemed qualified by the court. No part of
the net earnings of a nonprofit corporation serving as a receiver under this section shall
benefit a private shareholder or individual. Membership on the board of trustees of a
nonprofit corporation does not constitute the holding of a public office or employment
and is not an interest, either direct or indirect, in a contract or expenditure of money by a
city or county. No member of a board of trustees of a nonprofit corporation appointed as
receiver is disqualified from holding public office or employment, nor is a member
required to forfeit public office or employment by reason of the membership on the board
85 Acts, ch 222, §4; 96 Acts, ch 1204, §29
657A.5 Determination of costs of abatement.
1. Prior to ordering work or the furnishing of materials to abate a public nuisance under
this chapter, the court shall make all of the following findings:
a. The estimated cost of the labor, materials, and financing required to abate the public
b. The estimated income and expenses of the property after the furnishing of the
materials and the completion of the repairs and improvements.
c. The need for and terms of financing for the performance of the work and the
furnishing of the materials.
d. If repair and rehabilitation of the property are not found to be feasible, the cost of
demolition of the property or the portions of the property that constitute the public
2. Upon the written request of all the known interested persons to have the property or
portions of the property demolished, the court may order the demolition. However,
demolition shall not be ordered unless the requesting persons have paid the costs of
demolition, the costs of the receivership, and all notes and mortgages of the receivership.
85 Acts, ch 222, §5