Summary of Iowa Landlord and Tenant Law by: Iowa Legal Aid
Iowa Landlord and Tenant Act applies to rental agreements for most houses or apartments. It does not cover all situations. A rental agreement is the understanding between the landlord and tenant. It may be in writing or oral. See other articles posted on this website and the Iowa Legal Aid publication A Guide to Landlord Tenant Law in Iowa for more details about landlord and tenant law.
Duties of Landlords (Iowa Code 562A.15) In most cases, the duties of the landlord include: Follow building and housing codes that affect health and safety in an important way; Make repairs to keep the house or apartment in a fit and livable condition; Provide for garbage receptacles and removal; Supply hot and cold running water and heat, unless the tenant pays the utility company directly, and the water heater and furnace are under the tenant's control; Keep areas used by the tenants of more than one apartment clean and safe; and Keep facilities and appliances such as electric wiring, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning in good and safe working order.
Only in limited cases can the landlord and tenant agree that the tenant will be responsible for any of the landlord's duties. In any case where the tenant agrees to be responsible for the landlord's duties, the agreement should be in writing, and fair to both.
It does not seem the landlord is obligated or liable for the failure of the tenant to turn on utilities.