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Contract Disputes and Property Disputes in Iowa

A contract in Iowa is an agreement between parties—the contractors, detailing obligations that are enforceable or recognizable under the laws of Iowa. The Iowa judiciary is responsible for adjudicating contract and property disputes, as well as maintaining publicly available court records on the case.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or persons involved in the case. These include information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are Contract Disputes in Iowa?

Contract disputes arise when the parties involved in a contract have differing opinions on the validity or enforceability of a contract. It also includes disputes arising from the extent of enforceability of a contract. In most cases, the parties will request judicial intervention to settle the contract dispute.

What are the Most Common Contract Disputes in Iowa?

Contract disputes involve public and private entities in Iowa. Some common contract disputes involve

  • Employment contract dispute: An employment contract describes an employee’s relationship with the company as well as his/her contractual compensation, obligations, and rights. The typical disputes that arise in employment contracts in Iowa involve discrimination claims, wrongful termination of a contract, and the right to intellectual property.
  • Insurance contract disputes: These disputes arise from disagreements between an insurance service provider and the claimant. It typically involves the interpretation and enforceability of clauses in an insurance contract.
  • Marital contract dispute: Marriage is a civil contract in Iowa, and disputes arising from contracts signed before and after severing the bonds of matrimony. This kind of dispute involves contractual agreements such as the prenuptial agreement and the divorce settlement agreement when one or both parties fail to fulfill obligations per the contract.
  • Real estate contract dispute: These kinds of contract disputes are common among residential and commercial property owners. The disagreements often involve disputes on the right to landed property, tenancy rights, easement, and liens.
  • Construction contract dispute: Arguably a real estate contract dispute, these disputes arise when a contractor fails to accomplish the objectives in the pre-established construction timeline or seeks more funds beyond the initial budget.

What is Iowa Contract Law?

Iowa Contract Law is not codified in statute. Instead, the state’s contract law is largely a product of the common law. Nevertheless, Iowa adopts the Uniform Commercial Code (Chapter 554), which deals with certain types of contracts including the sale of goods and services, lease, and property. The code also contains sections on contractual obligations and remedies for a breach of contract.

What is a Breach of Contract in Iowa?

Suffice to say that a breach of contract is a violation of the terms of a legal agreement to do or not to do something, i.e., when one or more parties default on their contractual obligations.

What are the Remedies for a Breach of Contract in Iowa?

A breach of contract claim is a civil case and follows the Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure. Generally, before adjudicating a breach of contract claim, the court will encourage the parties to participate in mediation or arbitration. The case proceeds to trial when efforts to settle the dispute fail. The court typically conducts a bench trial for breach of contract, although a jury trial is required in many cases. Upon examining the case, the court will order the following remedies:

  • Damages: The court awards damages to the aggrieved party to cover the losses incurred due to the breach. The award of damages is monetary compensation for losses incurred due to the breach. It is not punitive.  
  • Rescission: A rescission is an equitable remedy that restores the parties to their status before the contract. Here, the parties must restore profits and benefits gotten from the execution of the contract thus far.
  • Cancellation: Here, the court ends the contract for the breach, but the parties retain any remedy for breach or any unperformed balance
  • Specific Performance: Here, the court orders the defendant to fulfill contractual obligations. This remedy is often the last resort: the court orders specific performance when no other remedy would suffice.

A complaint begins at the office of the clerk of the district court or the small claims court. The prerequisites for filing a breach of contract claim in Iowa are viz:

  • Proof of a valid contract
  • Documentation of the extent of fulfillment of obligations by both parties
  • Evidence of the breach
  • Evidence of notifying the other party of the breach
  • Evidence and estimation of sustained loss due to the breach

Furthermore, per Iowa Code § 614.1 (5), the injured party has a ten-year statutory window to initiate a claim for the breach of a written contract. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish a breach of contract, and the defendant proves that no such breach occurred under the terms of the contract or state laws. Both parties support arguments with affidavits, disposition testimony, witness testimony, attestations, and other acceptable evidence.

What Defenses Can Be Used Against a Breach of Contract Claim in Iowa?

The following legal arguments nullify a claim of breach of contract in Iowa:

  • Duress
  • Frustration of purpose
  • Mistake of fact
  • Fraud
  • Abandonment
  • Negligence
  • Unconscionability
  • Incompetency of minor
  • The illegality of the contract

What are Property Disputes in Iowa?

A property dispute in Iowa refers to disagreements between adjoining owners of real estate or personal properties such as investment and stocks. It may also involve disputes on the rights of ownership to material or immaterial objects.

What Are Some Common Types of Property Disputes in Iowa?

Some of the commonly reported property disputes in Iowa involve:

  • Real estate fraud
  • Landlord-tenant dispute
  • Intellectual property dispute
  • Water rights dispute
  • Railroad property dispute
  • Easement dispute
  • Boundary dispute

How to Find Property Lines

Property lines or boundary lines are clearly defined points that show land limits or boundaries between adjoining landowners. The lines are established per real estate survey and show the boundaries of adjoining parcels of land. Information on property lines is available on the real estate survey report and at the office of the county assessor. For example, to find information on property lines in Humboldt County, visit the office of the county assessor. Interested persons may also use the directory on Iowa State Association of Assessors to find county assessors.

How do I Find a Property Dispute Lawyer Near me?

The Iowa judiciary provides resources to find various attorneys, including property dispute attorneys, on this webpage.

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