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Rental Code Information
Rental Code
The City of Cedar Falls is mandated through Iowa State Code to establish a minimum acceptable standard for rental properties. The Cedar Falls Fire Department is the local city department performing those duties. We currently have one (1) inspector working through the Fire Chief conducting inspections on a rotational 3-year basis. A copy of the current rental code may be obtained by contacting Fire Headquarters at (319) 273-8697.

Information on Rental Code Changes
A public hearing will be held June 20, 2016 to consider changes to the rental ordinance, that are aimed at clarifying and improving some areas from the 2015 changes.

Following is a link to the ordinance that was adopted in 2015 with proposed changes highlighted. More information regarding the changes can be found using the following links.

Family Definition
The definition of a family contained within the rental code applies to all rental properties in Cedar Falls, no matter what the type or zoning district.  The definition is as follows:

Family means a person living alone, or any of the following groups living together in a single dwelling unit as a single, non-profit housekeeping unit and sharing common living, sleeping, cooking and eating facilities: 

(a) Any number of persons related by blood, marriage, adoption, guardianship or other duly-authorized custodial relationship; or 
(b) Two unrelated persons and any dependent children
related to either of them; or 
(c) Not more than five (5) persons who are granted a group rental permit under subsection 14-222(f) of this division. 

Any family as described in either subsection (a) or subsection (b) above may also allow occupancy of one additional person who is either a live-in nanny, a live-in maid, a live-in caretaker, a live-in nurse, a foreign exchange student, or a roomer.

Existing Rental Status
One of the requirements of the changed ordinance is that existing rentals provide baseline information. This applies only to single-family and duplex dwelling units. A separate form is necessary for each property. These completed forms must be returned to the City by 5:00 p.m.
August 18, 2015
. Failure to do so will compromise any potentially legal, non-conforming status the property may presently have and require that it meet all new regulations (particularly related to occupancy level and parking).

Group Rental Application
Any new rental property wishing to rent to three to five (3-5) unrelated individuals must obtain a group rental permit first. The permit will allow a specific number of unrelated individuals to occupy a rental unit.  This is not transferable to a new owner.  Sale or transfer of a property with a group rental permit requires a new request for this higher level of occupancy.  

Any occupancy of five unrelated individuals must have a sprinkler system in place, meeting City Code.  In addition, rental permits require annual application and inspection, unlike lower occupancy where this occurs every three (3) years.

Paving Requires A Land Use Permit
Any changes of existing gravel surfaces or additions of newly paved surfaces on a lot must obtain a land use permit prior to making the change. Application for a land use permit must provide detailed information about the location and dimensions of the proposed change.  Click here for the land use permit application. This will be reviewed for zoning compliance prior to approval. Primary areas of review will include (but are not limited to):
  • Is the driveway at least 3’ from the property line?
  • Is the driveway at least 10’ wide?
  • Does the driveway width match the width of the garage (or less)?
  • Is a parking area/lot at least 5’ from the property line?
    • It can be 3’ from the alley if located in the rear/side.
  • Is the parking area/lot surrounded by landscaping?
    • When three stalls or more, 5’ of landscaping around the periphery is required.
  • Are the parking stalls a minimum of 8’ wide by 18’ long?
  • Parking areas/lots may only be located in the rear yard or additional side yard (beyond the required side yard).
  • Adequate paved access must be provided to any parking area/lot.

Rental Educational Workshop Presentations
City staff conducted a series of rental educational workshops catered to rental property owners, tenants, UNI students and the citizens of Cedar Falls. You can view these PowerPoint presentations by selecting the following links:

The video below is a Currents Up Close presentation on Rental and Code Enforcement issues.

Additional Information
For information regarding minimum rental code inspections, contact Captain Bobby Wright, Fire Inspections and Code Enforcement, (319) 273-8697.