from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Odell G.
McGhee, II, District Associate Judge.
Moines RHF Housing, Inc. appeals the dismissal of its
petition for forcible entry and detainer filed against Alvin
M. Craig of Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Des Moines, for
R. Burdick of Iowa Legal Aid, Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
Moines RHF Housing, Inc. seeks relief from the dismissal of
its petition for forcible entry and detainer (FED) filed
against Alvin Spencer. The magistrate held the FED action was
barred by the peaceable possession defense set forth in Iowa
Code section 648.18 (2017) and dismissed the petition. The
district court affirmed the magistrate's decision. On RHF
Housing's application, the supreme court granted
discretionary review. The supreme court transferred the
matter to this court for resolution.
a discretionary review of a small claims decision, the nature
of the case determines the standard of review." De
Stefano v. Apts. Downtown, Inc., 879 N.W.2d 155, 164
(Iowa 2016) (quoting GE Money Bank v. Morales, 773
N.W.2d 533, 536 (Iowa 2009)). An action for forcible entry
and detainer "shall be tried as an equitable
action." Iowa Code § 648.5(1). "Our review of
a forcible entry and detainer action, which is tried in
equity, is de novo." Capital Fund 85 Ltd. P'ship
v. Priority Sys., LLC, 670 N.W.2d 154, 156-57 (Iowa
2003) (citation omitted). "The interpretation of
statutes is reviewed for errors at law." Horizon
Homes of Davenport v. Nunn, 684 N.W.2d 221, 224 (Iowa
2004) (citing State v. McCoy, 618 N.W.2d 324, 325
record reflects the following. RHF Housing, a supportive
housing for persons with disabilities facility under 42
U.S.C. § 8013, served Spencer with a "Notice of
Nonpayment of Rent, Notice of Termination of Lease, and
Notice to Quit" on May 15, 2017. The notice demanded
unpaid rent from April and May 2017 and stated, "[if]
the full amount of past due rent is not paid by May 22, 2017
(the 'cure date'), then the Lease Agreement shall
terminate on June 21, 2017 ('the termination date')
without any further notice to you." On June 22, 2017,
RHF Housing filed its FED action against Spencer and averred,
"Landlord terminated Defendant's lease effective
June 21, 2017 for non-payment of rent." After a hearing
the magistrate determined:
The Court finds the cause of action for nonpayment of April
rent accrued on April 2, 2017. On May 2, 2017, Plaintiff was
barred from filing an action based on non-payment of April
rent because they allowed Defendant to remain on the premises
peaceably for thirty days.
However, a new cause of action accrued on May 2, 2017, when
Defendant failed to pay May rent by May 1, 2017. Had the
three-day notice only requested May rent, to cure, Plaintiff
would not be barred from bringing this action. For these
reasons, the Court finds peaceable possession, pursuant to
Iowa Code Section 648.18, barring Plaintiff from bringing
district court affirmed this ruling and found the action
brought by RHF Housing was an action for non-payment of rent,
not an action against a holdover tenant after the termination
of a lease.
action for forcible entry and detainer is an action for
possession of property. See AHEPA 192-1 Apartments v.
Smith, No. 11-0167, 2011 WL 6669744, at *5 (Iowa Ct.
App. Dec. 21, 2011). "The only question in a forcible
entry and detainer action is whether the defendant is
wrongfully detaining possession of the real property at the
time of the trial." Bernet v. Rogers, 519
N.W.2d 808, 811 (Iowa 1994) (citing Rudolph ...