Brief Outline - - Housing Complaint Process

Filing a Housing Discrimination Complaint

A complaint must be filed with the  Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) within 300 days of the last alleged discriminatory incident.


To begin filing a complaint, call 1-800-457-4416 and ask to speak to a Housing Intake staff person for further instruction. 


The ICRC is a neutral fact-finder. They remain neutral from the moment the complaint is received to the completion of the investigation and a ruling by the judge. 


When a signed/verified complaint is received, it is reviewed to determine if it meets statutory requirements of the "Iowa Civil Rights Act," Iowa Code Chapter 216.


If the complaint does not meet requirements, it is given an NJ# (not jurisdictional) or NT# (not timely filed) designation. The person who filed the complaint is then notified that the ICRC is not able to proceed, and the complaint is closed.


Complaint Becomes An Investigation

If the complaint meets the requirements:

  • It is assigned a CP# (complaint number). This number should be referenced in any further communication.
  • A copy of the complaint is mailed to the Complainant, the person who filed the complaint.
  • A copy of the complaint is served on the Respondent, the person(s), or the organization, accused in the complaint. 
  • Each party is interviewed.
  • Additional information is collected.
  • Witnesses are contacted and interviewed.


Alternative Options to Investigation

At any time during the process:

1. The parties may decide to settle the complaint through a voluntary process called "mediation." Mediation allows the parties to resolve the complaint before the investigation.

2. The complainant may file an action directly in district court. They may do this even if an administrative complaint has been filed, and if filed, where it is in the process.


Investigative Recommendations and Rulings

When the investigation is complete the investigator reviews all collected information. A recommendation is made to the administrative law judge whether Probable Cause or No Probable Cause exists to believe that discrimination occurred. 

  • If the administrative law judge finds No Probable Cause, the complaint is closed.
  • If the judge finds Probable Cause, the parties are then given 20 days to decide:
  • to proceed in district court, or
  • to continue with the Commission's complaint process

If the parties choose to continue with ICRC, the case is assigned to another administrative law judge and set for a public hearing.