The Delaware Code Title 25 Chapter 55 Section 5517 prohibits a landlord from retaliating against a residential tenant in the following manner:
Landlord Retaliatory Acts Prohibited
(a) Retaliatory acts are prohibited.
(b) A retaliatory act is an attempt on the part of the landlord to: pursue an action for summary possession or otherwise cause the tenant to quit the rental unit involuntarily; demand an increase in rent from the tenant; or decrease services to which the tenant is entitled after:
(1) The tenant has complained in good faith of a condition in or affecting the rental unit which constitutes a violation of a building, housing, sanitary or other code or ordinance to the landlord or to an authority charged with the enforcement of such code or ordinance; or
(2) A state or local government authority has filed a notice or complaint of such violation of a building, housing, sanitary or other code or ordinance; or
(3) The tenant has organized or is an officer of a tenant’s organization; or
(4) The tenant has pursued or is pursuing any legal right or remedy arising from the tenancy.
(c) If the tenant proves that the landlord has instituted any of the actions set forth in subsection (b) of this section within 90 days of any complaints or act as enumerated above, such conduct shall be presumed to be a retaliatory act.
(d) It shall be a defense to a claim that the landlord has committed a retaliatory act if:
(1) The landlord has given appropriate notice under a section of this part which allows a landlord to terminate early;
(2) The landlord seeks in good faith to recover possession of the rental unit for immediate use as landlord’s own residence;
(3) The landlord seeks in good faith to recover possession of the rental unit for the purpose of substantially altering, remodeling or demolishing the premises;
(4) The landlord seeks in good faith to recover possession of the rental unit for the purpose of immediately terminating, for at least 6 months, use of the premises as a rental unit;
(5) The complaint or request of the landlord relates to a condition or conditions caused by the lack of ordinary care by the tenant or other person in the household, or on the premises with the tenant’s consent;
(6) The rental was, on the date of filing of tenant’s complaint or request or on the date of appropriate notice prior to the end of the rental term, in full compliance with all codes, statutes and ordinances;
(7) The landlord has in good faith contracted to sell the property and the contract of sale contains a representation by the purchaser conforming to paragraph (d)(2), (3) or (4) of this section;
(8) The landlord is seeking to recover possession of the rental unit on the basis of a notice to terminate a periodic tenancy, which notice was given to the tenant prior to the complaint or request;
(9) The condition complained of was impossible to remedy prior to the end of the cure period;
(10) The landlord has become liable for a substantial increase in property taxes or a substantial increase in other maintenance or operating costs not associated with the landlord complying with the complaint or request, and such liability occurred not less than 4 months prior to the demand for the increase in rent, and the increase in rent does not exceed the pro-rata portion of the net increase in taxes or cost;
(11) The landlord has completed a substantial capital improvement of the rental unit or the property of which it is a part, not less than 4 months prior to the demand for increased rent, and such increase in rent does not exceed the amount which may be claimed for federal income tax purposes as a straight-line depreciation of the improvement, pro-rated among the rental units benefited by the improvement; or
(12) The landlord can establish, by competent evidence, that the rent now demanded of the tenant does not exceed the rent charged other tenants of similar rental units in the same complex, or the landlord can establish that the increase in rent is not directed at the particular tenant as a result of any retaliatory acts.
(e) Any tenant from whom possession of the rental unit has been sought, or who the landlord has otherwise attempted to involuntarily dispossess, in violation of this section, shall be entitled to recover 3 months’ rent or treble the damages sustained by tenant, whichever is greater, together with the cost of the suit but excluding attorneys’ fees.
Del. Code § 5517.
See also Delaware Unlawful Eviction or Exclusion of Tenant Prohibited.
Return to Delaware Landlord-Tenant Laws.