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Searchable Rental Handbook Now Available

Our Rental Housing Handbook for Landlords and Tenants provides a wide variety of information that is critical to understanding your rights both as a tenant and a landlord.  We've recently updated it so you can search the PDF based on key words.

Our handbook includes information such as:
  • What tenants need to consider before renting.
  • Tenants rights. 
  • What landlords should consider before renting a property.
  • Landlord rights.
  • And much, much more.
If you questions about the handbook or rental questions, please don't hesitate to contact our housing counselors at 515.243.1277.


Learn more about NeighborhoodLIFT

NeighborhoodLIFT is a special downpayment assistance program offered to Polk County residents.

A two-day event in late September could help 250 Polk County residents become homeowners.

Wells Fargo & Co., along with our partner Neighborhood Finance Corp. (NFC) and a national housing organization are offering a $4.7 million mortgage assistance program. We’ll be working with NFC to provide the homebuyer education and certification both online, as well as in-person classes. 

The NeighborhoodLIFT program will provide $15,000 down payment assistance grants for homebuyers with annual income of no more than 80 percent of the local area median income, which is about $63,700 for up to a family of four in Polk County. 

In addition, veterans and service members, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians who apply can earn up to 100 percent of the local area median income, which is about $79,600 for up to a family of four. Individuals in any of these professions may reserve $17,500 down payment assistance grants within eligibility requirements.

Interested homebuyers can register here beginning Sept. 10 for a free event from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 28 and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29 in Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center. Walk-ins are welcome. To learn more about the eligibility requirements and documents needed to apply for a down payment assistance grant, visit our LIFT page or neighborhoodfinance.org/lift/.


FAQ: “Help my toilet is broken and my landlord isn’t responding!”

So maybe there aren’t broken toilets all over Des Moines, but we do get many calls from renters asking how they can better communicate and deal with landlords who are slow or not responding to repair requests. 

The first step is to review your lease and other documents from your landlord to ensure that you are following the procedures in place for reporting repair and maintenance issues.  Not all repair requests start with a phone call or an email.  If your unit is part of a large property management organization, you may need to fill out an online form.  For others, they do want a phone call or email, but you may have to contact a specific person – not necessarily the onsite property manager.  And, the reality is, some landlords simply don’t have a process.  Important note: document how you are communicating your repair need.  Write down how, when and who you are trying to reach, as well as, what, if any response, you have received. Keep dated and signed copies of all communication, if possible!

If your landlord has not responded to or completed repairs within 7-10 days, it may be time to seek other avenues.  This may mean contacting the owner or the supervisor rather than the property manager to move the process along.  Be mindful, however, that not all repairs can be made quickly.  If the repair includes parts that need to be ordered, you may have to wait a few days.  If the landlord/maintenance professional/owner is communicating with you, you are well on your way to resolving this in a timely and efficient manner.

In the unlikely event that you haven’t made progress in your request for repair, you also have the right to call the code enforcement office for the city or county in which you live to inquire about what, if anything, they might be able to do.  If you have a valid concern, the local code enforcement office will likely have procedures that they want you to follow in making a report.  Remember, this is an action of last resort and should only be considered if you have had little or no productive conversations with the person responsible for caring for your unit.

Have questions about your specific circumstance? We have housing counselors available to talk with you.  They can be reached at 515.243.1277.  Calls are typically returned within 24 hours Monday – Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the order they were received.  We also have a Rental Housing Handbook, which offers tenants and landlords basic information about renting, rental agreements, rental deposits, eviction actions, state and local housing laws, and a summary of tenant and landlord rental housing rights and responsibilities.

Please note: this article and the Rental Housing Handbook are intended only for informational purposes and not a substitute for legal advice


Housing Counseling helps hundreds across the community

While we count each of our services as important, it could be argued that our Counseling Services just may be our most popular and most necessary.  

In the 2017 calendar year, HOME, Inc. responded to 2,293 calls and 89% of those surveyed indicated that the resources, information and counseling provided to them helped them resolve their housing issue. Tenant rental counseling accounted for 83% of those calls with 1,811 calls serving 1,145 individual clients. 

Calls come from all areas - homeowners, potential homeowners, renters and landlords.  Government agencies use this as a resource for answering questions about how to help individual clients. This ensures our topics cover a lot of areas.  For example, our calls include:
  • Renters wanting to understand their rights in requesting maintenance and repairs.
  • Helping landlords find creative solutions to tenant issues outside of the court, code enforcement or small claims processes. 
  • Potential homeowners seeking information about how to move from rental to homeownership.
  • Near homeless families and individuals seeking resources. 
For more information about our counseling services, contact us at 515-243-1277, option 1.  Our office hours are Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - Noon and 1 - 4 p.m. Our voicemail is available 24/7 and calls are returned in the order received. For calls received Monday - Thursday, we typically will return calls within 24 hours.