The Property

Many issues can affect your property. It is important to research these items before purchasing land.

Land Zoning

Not all lots can be built on. The Jasper County Assessor has many parcels that are separate for the purpose of taxation that are not legal lots in the sense that a building permit will be issued. You must check with the Jasper County Planning and Zoning Department to know that a piece of land can be built on.

Building Permits

All of Jasper County is zoned and building permits are required for all buildings. If you buy property that has structures on it that were built without a permit, you may be liable for obtaining a permit and bringing the structure up to current code requirements. Check with the Jasper County Planning and Zoning Department for additional information.

Easements

Easements may require you to allow construction of roads, power lines, water lines, sewer lines, etc. across your land. There may be easements that are not of record. Check these issues carefully.

Plats

You may be provided with a plat of your property, but unless the land has been surveyed and pins placed by a licensed surveyor, you cannot assume that the plat is accurate.

Fences vs. Property Lines

Fences that separate properties are often misaligned with the property lines. A survey of the land is the only way to confirm the location of your property lines. Iowa fence custom uses the right hand rule. When you face your fence line, you are responsible for the right hand half of the fence and you are required to keep it in repair if the adjoining landowner has livestock. It is recommended that you reduce all fence agreements to writing and record the agreement.

Be sure to check with the county engineer before building a fence near a road so that it is not on the county right-of-way. You are not allowed to park vehicles or equipment in the ditch or along the road right-of-way.

Covenants

Many subdivisions have covenants that limit the use of the property. It is important to obtain a copy of the covenants (or confirm that there are none) and make sure that you can live with those rules. Also, a lack of covenants can cause problems between neighbors.

Homeowners Associations

Homeowners associations (HOAs) are required to take care of common elements, roads, open space, etc. A dysfunctional HOA or poor covenants can cause problems for you and even involve you in expensive litigation. Dues are almost always a requirement for those areas with a HOA. The by-laws of the HOA will tell you how the organization operates and how the dues are set.

Surrounding Property

The surrounding properties will probably not remain as they are indefinitely. You can check with the Jasper County Planning and Zoning Department to find out how the properties are zoned and to see what future developments may be in the planning stages. The view from your property may change.

Drainage Ditches

If you have a drainage district ditch running across your property, there is a good possibility that the owners of the ditch have the right to come onto your property with heavy equipment to maintain the ditch or tile. Check with the Jasper County Engineer to review drainage district maps. It is important not to build or plant trees over a drain tile. The right-of-way (including both ditches) is controlled by the county, mowing is the only thing permitted in the right-of-way.