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Iowa Tenants' Project
Houser Enterprises
Class Action

Here is information on Amor v. Houser, case no. CVCV75753, which is a case brought by the Tenants' Project on behalf of tenants in Johnson County District Court that challenges a variety of provisions previously found in the previous standard lease of Houser Enterprises ("Landlord"). The parties have agreed to ask the Court to certify this case as a class action for current and future tenants for the next three years for purposes of entering an injunction to protect tenants and to rule on the landlord's lease. This class action would not be for the purposes of damages.
Here are the orders Modifying the Class and giving Preliminary Approval for Settlement. Here is the Settlement Agreement. There will be a final fairness hearing on Monday March 12, 2018 at 10 am at Johnson County District Court to decide whether to approve the settlement and other issues as detailed below.
A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of persons, referred to as the class. Philip and Brittany Amor, whose lease was ruled on by the Court, are the class representatives. The class consists of all Houser Enterprises current tenants, now and for the next three years. There is no way to join the class action as all eligible tenants are automatically included in the class. However if you do not wish to be part of the class you may choose to opt out or exclude yourself from the class. If the class members fail to opt out, even if they were not aware of the class action, they are still bound by the ruling or settlement in the case. The Court has appointed attorney Christopher Warnock of the Tenants' Project as class counsel to represent the class.
The Amors, as class representatives, with the advice and assistance of her counsel, the Tenants' Project, has agreed with Landlord to settle the case. You can see the complete proposed settlement here. Because this is a class action, the Court must approve any settlement and ensure that it is reasonable and fair for all class members. The Court has preliminarily approved the settlement and has set a fairness hearing for 10a.m. on Monday March 12, 2018 at the Johnson County Courthouse to determine whether to finally approve the settlement. Here is the order giving Preliminary Approval for Settlement

Proposed Settlement

The proposed settlement provides for the Court to enter a three year injunction against Landlord to obey the Iowa Landlord Tenant Act, Iowa Code Chapter 562A, as well as Landlord's standard lease. The Tenants' Project will also check Landlord's lease and make sure that there are no illegal provisions in it. Finally, if the Tenants' Project represents a tenant against Landlord in the next three years and wins the case, Landlord must pay attorney fees to the Tenants Project. No damages will be paid to the class.
The settlement was arrived at by considering the following factors:
  1. In order have class action damages, the landlord must have one policy or lease provision that identically affects or is used identically against all class members. Individual damages, for example, for cleaning or damage to the unit, cannot be recovered in a class action. Previous tenants and current tenants who are class members are free to pursue any individual damage claims that they may have against Landlord.
  2. The Tenants Project, counsel for the class, has had a number of cases go to the Iowa Supreme Court. The main provisions in Landlord's lease that might have resulted in damages for the class were either overturned by the Supreme Court or were for provisions that were not enforced by Landlord.
  3. Removing illegal lease provisions, having an injunction against Landlord to obey the Landlord Tenant Act and providing for attorney fees if the Tenants Project wins a case against Landlord will help protect current and future tenants.
  4. The individual plaintiffs in the case will receive repayment from Landlord of their individual claims, but no incentive or other payments or damages as class members or class representatives.
Based on all these factors, the parties believe that the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable. If the Court approves settlement, class members would be bound by it as far as any injunctive relief, but not for claims that must be proven on a case by case basis or any claims for wrongfully withholding security deposits. Landlord has agreed to pay all court costs and costs of notification.
Class counsel's fees are determined by the Court. Class Counsel will seek an award of attorney fees under the Landlord Tenant Act and class action rules. The Landlord Tenant Act does not permit contingency fees, but requires that fees be reasonable and calculated as hourly fees. Landlord has agreed that $250 per hour as attorney fees is reasonable and that 62 hours for Christopher Warnock as counsel ($15,500) are reasonable as attorney fees.

Opting Out & Objections

Class members have the right to opt-out of the settlement. If they opt out of the settlement they are not bound by it, but will not be protected by the Consent Decree. Class members can opt-out using the Opt out form send the completed form to Class Counsel Christopher Warnock at
Class members may object to the settlement and may appear at the fairness hearing at 10 a.m. on March 12, 2017 at the Johnson County Courthouse. You can ask the Court to deny approval of the settlement, including attorney fees, by filing an objection. All objections must be served on Class Counsel Christopher Warnock at at least 21 days before the fairness hearing. You can't ask the Court to order a different settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the settlement. If the Court denies approval the lawsuit will continue. You can object by sending using this Notice of Objections. You can also appear at the fairness hearing by sending using the Notice of Objections and Intention to Appear. Notices of objection should be e-mail to Class Counsel Christopher Warnock at at least 21 days before the fairness hearing.