What follows is a brief but informative summary of rules, procedures, and filings requirements for small claims court in Iowa. Keep in mind that rules and laws change. It’s always a good idea to confirm the rules with the court or with further research.

Maximum Jurisdictional Dollar Amount: The maximum dollar amount is $5,000.

Where Suit May Be Brought: Cases should be brought where the defendant resides or injury occurred. Contracts cases can be heard, where the contractual obligation was incurred. Negotiable instruments where maker resides. Nonresident defendants can be sued where found. A corporation is deemed to reside where it has an office or agent.

Proper Manner of Service of Process upon Defendant: Service may be made by certified or registered mail, peace officer or court- approved disinterested adult (except in eviction suits).

How the Hearing Date Is Selected: Defendant must appear within 20 days, the hearing shall be set within 5-20 days thereafter.

Attorney Representation Rule: Attorneys are allowed.

Special Provisions Regarding Transfer or Jurisdiction of Cases: If the defendant requests a jury trial or counterclaims for more than $4,000, the case shall be tried under regular civil procedure of the District Court.

Availability of Appeals: Either litigant may appeal for a review of law but not of the facts to District Court within 20 days.

Special Rules and Notes: No injunctive relief is available in small claims court. Jury trials are not available. Resident defendants have 20 days and nonresidents have 60 days to answer or lose by default. Written pleadings not required. The court may order installment payments including garnishments, where the amount sought does not exceed $5,000. Replevin may be granted of value of property is $5,000 or less.

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