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Common Landowner/Tenant Scenarios

The following examples illustrate the most common scenarios involving Iowa landowners and tenants and who is eligible for Landowner/Tenant licenses. However, each case must be decided on its own merits.

  • A husband and wife own land jointly (both names are on the deed).
  • The husband is listed as the owner; the wife and/or minor children actively participate in the farm operation but are not tenants as previously described.
  • The husband is sole owner of part of the farm unit and the wife is sole owner of another part, but all the land is farmed together as a unit. In all three cases, one member of the landowner family may get one Any-deer license.  The Antlerless-only licenses for which the family may be eligible may be divided among eligible family members any way they choose.
  • One spouse owns a parcel of land away from the farm unit that they farm. The spouse’s parcel is farmed by another individual and the spouse is not actively engaged in farming it. No Landowner/Tenant license may be granted for the separate parcel since neither spouse qualifies under the definitions of Landowners and Tenants. Only the tenant of that parcel may have a Landowner/Tenant license.
  • The owner cash-rents the entire farm to a tenant who is not the owner’s child. Only the tenant may have a Landowner/Tenant license.
  • A parent owns the land and an adult child farms it. Both may qualify if the child pays rent (the parent as landowner, and the child as tenant). Only the child qualifies if there is a formal purchase agreement between the two.
  • A tenant rents farm land from several owners. The tenant or qualifying member of the tenant’s family may have one Any-deer license.  The Antlerless-only licenses for which the tenant family may be eligible may be divided among the tenant family in any way they choose.  All licenses will be valid on all the land the tenant rents.
  • Farm laborer. A farm laborer who is not an eligible member of the landowner or tenant’s family and who works for wages or other compensation is not entitled to a Landowner/Tenant license.


Joe is a landowner and his farm unit is greater than 2 acres and contains several parcels, some of which are spread over a multi-county area. Which parcel number should he register?
A: Even though Joe has multiple parcels, he must register only once using a single parcel number to demonstrate his eligibility. Once registered, Joe may hunt with his LOT license(s) on any of the parcels he owns.

George’s farm unit is greater than 2 acres and consists of both owned and rented land. Is he eligible for licenses both as a landowner AND a tenant?
A: No, the farm unit is the basis for determining eligibility.  George may register as either a landowner OR a tenant, but not both.  In these situations, the DNR recommends that he register as a landowner because rented land can come and go. Once registered, George may use his licenses on all parcels within his farm unit, regardless of whether they are owned or rented.

Mary and her two minor children returned to Mary’s parent’s home after a divorce.  Mary and the kids help out around the farm. She does not pay rent, nor does she share in the profits from the farm.
A: Does Mary qualify as a Tenant and her children as Tenant Child? No, nor does Mary qualify as a Landowner Child unless she is under the age of 18, or is 18-19 and enrolled in high school or a G.E.D. program.

Grandma and Grandpa own land and have their minor grandchildren living with them...
A: If they do not have guardianship of the children the grandchildren are not eligible as Landowner Child.

Mr. Smith rents his farm to more than one tenant. Who is eligible for licenses?
A: Tenants are only eligible for the parcels they rent and all of their hunting is restricted to the parcels they rent. As long as Mr. Smith meets one of the requirements as Landowner and does not rent his entire farm, he is eligible for Landowner licenses.

Parents are divorced and live in different states...
Child is under 18 and visits the parent who lives in Iowa who is an eligible Landowner. The child is eligible as a landowner child and has Iowa residency privileges. Foster children are also eligible.


Issue: Selling Property
Once the deed is signed, the buyer is considered the landowner and the seller is not eligible for landowner status. Although the sellers may retain the “Hunting Rights,” this does not entitle him or her to landowner licenses. These licenses are only available to eligible landowners or tenants by law.

Issue: Qualifying Land
Land must be used for agricultural purposes and gain or enrolled in a set aside program to be eligible for Landowner-Tenant licenses. A landowner with two or more acres who is not receiving financial gain from the land is not eligible for Landowner-Tenant licenses. Having a garden, mowing the lawn or planting landscaping trees does not qualify.

Issue: Limited Liability Corporations [LLC]
All holders in the LLC may register as Landowners and their family may register as spouse and child. They must register on the same parcel number for the Farm Unit and share the reduced fee licenses. Nonresidents are not available for reduced fee Landowner-Tenant licenses. The partners must be operating the farm unit themselves.

Issue: Living Estates
A person who is the receiver of a living estate must be actively farming the land to be eligible for Tenant status. Simply being the receiver and living in the house, but not farming the land, does not qualify.

Issue: Child Status
The child of the Landowner or Tenant must be less than 18 years old, or may be 18 or 19 years old, if still in high school or participating in a general equivalency degree [GED] program. If a child is 17 when they register and turns 18 before season, they are eligible to hunt under Child status. Child status ceases when the child turns 19 and is not in high school or enrolled in a GED program.

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