A summary of Delaware Landlord Tenant Laws based on state law statutes as they apply to residential lease agreements executed between landlords and tenants.
Required Disclosures (by Landlords)
Owner or Agent Information: On each written rental agreement, the landlord must prominently disclose the names and usual business addresses of all persons who are owners of the rental unit or the property of which the rental unit is a part, or the names and business addresses of their appointed resident agents. (25 Del. Code Ann. 5105)
Summary of Landlord-Tenant Code: A summary of the Landlord-Tenant Code, as prepared by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office or its successor agency, must be given to the new tenant at the beginning of the rental term. If the landlord fails to provide the summary, the tenant may plead ignorance of the law as a defense. (25 Del. Code Ann. § 5118)
Security Deposit Limit
A landlord may charge one month’s rent on leases for one year or more (furnished units have no limit); For month-to-month rental agreements there is no legal limit for secuirty deposits. As an alternative, the tenant may provide a surety bond in lieu of or in conjunction with a deposit. An additional amount may be collected for a pet deposit, but must be refundable or applied to pet related damage.
Location Must Be Disclosed: Orally or in writing, landlords must inform tenants where the security deposit is being kept. Usually this would be a financial institution such as a bank or credit union.
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit
A landlord must return the security deposit, along with an itemized statement of deductions, within 20 days after the tenant has moved out. All fees must be refundable.
Small Claims Lawsuits
Landlord-tenant cases may be filed in the Delaware Justice of the Peace Court for damages totalling no more than $15,000.
A landlord who wants to charge a late fee after 5 days must maintain an office in the county where the rental unit is located, where the tenants can pay rent. If a landlord does not have a local office for this purpose, the tenant has three extra days (eight days) to pay rent before a late fee can be assessed. The late fee cannot exceed 5% of the monthly rent amount.
Landlords must give tenants at least 60 days’ notice (in writing) to increase rent or change another term of a month-to-month rental agreement. The tenant then has 15 days to terminate the tenancy or accept the changes by default. Longer term lease agreements must dictate the amount of rent and rent increase (if any).
Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent
Tenants may only withhold rent or exercise the right to “repair and deduct” if a landlord (after being notified) fails to fix problems that affect the health, safety or habitability of the rental unit.
Termination and Eviction
A seven day unconditional quit notice to vacate or face eviction may be given for a violation of a lease provision that also constitutes violation of municipal, county, or state code or statute, or same violation of a material lease provision repeated within 12 months
An immediate unconditional quit notice may be used for a violation of law or breach of the rental agreement that causes or threatens to cause irreparable harm to the landlord’s property or to other tenants.
A seven day conditional notice to cure or quit may be used for all other lease violations.
Access to Property
Landlords must provide two days’ notice of entry.
Court may grant exclusive possession of the residence or household to the petitioner or other resident.
Delaware Lease Agreement
Delaware Landlord-Tenant Law Statutes
Delaware. Code Ann. tit. 25, §§ 5101 to 5907.