Common utilities include water, electricity, gas, sewer, trash, and recycling. Technology subscriptions like cable TV, internet, security, and phone service may also be considered utilities. The lease agreement determines who is responsible for paying for the utilities. Always read your lease carefully before signing it, so you know what expenses you will have.

Iowa Code section 562A.15 requires landlords to maintain a “fit premises.” Relating to utilities, this means keeping the heating system, the cooling system (if that is something your rental has), and electrical systems in working and safe condition.

In addition to keeping various systems in working order, the landlord must also provide running water, hot water, and heat, except where the heat and hot water work through an “installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.” An example of this would be if your unit has its own water heater, in which case you will need to pay the utility charges (gas or electric) for the hot water (unless your landlord has agreed to cover these charges in the lease). Where the rental is a single-family home, the landlord and tenant also have more flexibility in agreeing who pays for these services.

Visit our page Asking Your Landlord to Make Repairs for more information on how to ask your landlord to make repairs.

If you are having trouble paying your utility bills, visit our section on Utilities in the Consumer Law research topic for more information on programs that provide help with utility costs.