Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Iowa District Court Judge rules against City of Cedar Rapids on certain mandated changes in Chapter 29

Tommy Tucker Realty Co. has utilized a Crime Free Lease Addendum for nearly ten years. However, the "Crime Free Lease Addendum" required by the City of Cedar Rapids is a different document and has been ruled out by an Iowa District Judge. We agree with the judge that the City of Cedar Rapids went too far with changes in Chapter 29 in 2010.

Court throws out Cedar Rapids Crime-Free Lease‎ -Eastern Iowa Government
“All portions of Cedar Rapids City Code Chapter 29 which reference or implement the 'Crime Free Lease Addendum' are void and unenforceable,” District Court ...

Court Throws Out Cedar Rapids Crime-Free Lease‎ - KCRG-TV9
Includes video link on a TV9 news story

We received the following e-mail on this breaking news on the lawsuit over the City's Chapter 29 change in 2010:

The Landlords of Linn County have won their District Court lawsuit for
summary judgment against the city of Cedar Rapids. Provisions of the city's
chapter 29 which dealt with the crime free lease addendum were found to be

The first issue in the lawsuit had to do with use of home
rule power by the city in proposing the rewrite of chapter 29 which broadened
the provisions of the state home rule law. Landlords could have lost their
licenses to operate if they didn't follow the provisions of chapter 29. Here is
what the court said:

"This Court concludes that new Chapter 29 was not
enacted incident to an exercise of an
independent city power. The
independent city power must be something other than the general
police power
granted in the first sentence of §364.1, to “preserve the rights, privileges,
property of the city or of it residents, and to preserve and improve the
peace, safety, health,
welfare, comfort, and convenience of its residents”.
Defendant has not identified any
independent power to justify the ordinance
and their reliance on their power to enact housing
safety codes is
misplaced. Because new Chapter 29 violates the limitation imposed by Iowa
Code § 364.1, the Court concludes new Chapter 29 is unenforceable."

The second issue raised by the Landlords of Linn County dealt with the
conflict between the provisions of the state clear and present danger law with
particular provisions of chapter 29. The issue is whether the city could be more
stringent than the state law. Here is the court's findings:

"The grounds
for eviction and the lack of cure provisions in
new Chapter 29 render it
irreconcilable with state law. The conflict between the two laws is
unavoidable and not a matter for reasonable debate. The only way to resolve the
conflict between the two is, as the Defendant points out, to choose the
provisions of § 562A.27A
to protect a tenant who has followed the cure
provisions afforded by that statute or who has
committed a crime that is not
enumerated in § 562A.27A. Therefore, this Court finds that the
preemption form of implied preemption applies to preempt the ordinance in this
case and
provides an additional basis for finding that new Chapter 29 is

Landlords of Linn County had two other provisions in
their summary judgment argument. The court didn't find their arguments
compelling on the points of the city's ordinance being "vague" in violation of
Iowa's constitution and the argument that the ordinance amounted to a violation
of the "taking" provisions of the Iowa Constitution.
However, the losses on
those points didn't mean anything. Winning on two counts was enough for the
court to find on behalf of the Landlords of Linn County.
We congratulate
this chapter for standing up for their rights. The document should be useful for
any other chapter finding themselves similarily situated.

Joe Kelly
Lobbyist for Landlords of Iowa
We hope the City of Cedar Rapids will consider bringing the community to the table to improve public safety, the delivery of City services and further discussion of housing issues, including affordability and preservation of housing stock through the establishment of a Housing Commission for the City of Cedar Rapids. Realtors, Landlords and others in the community have been recommending such for some time.

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