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Delaware Landlord-Tenant Laws

ThiDelaware Landlord Tenant Lawss article is intended to be an online resource for Delaware landlords.  We summarize key Delaware Landlord-Tenant laws that are most applicable to residential rental units.

This article is not qualified legal advice.  Individuals seeking guidance need to work with a legal advisor who is qualified in the jurisdiction.  Delaware Landlord Tenant Laws and statutes may vary from county to county or city to city, this article provides state level laws and statutes. 

Also, laws and statutes are subject to change and may cause sections of this article to be outdated.  We provide links to assist landlords and tenants to the state statute page for further research.

Click here if you are seeking renters insurance in Delaware.

 

Quick Facts for Real Estate Investors Considering Delaware

Delaware landlord-tenant laws are considered Landlord-friendly.

There are 973k million residents in Delaware.  Major metropolitan markets in Delaware are:

  1. Dover: Estimated population of 1,204,877, which 29% of residents are renter occupied.  Average rent is $987.

 

Jump to Different Delaware Landlord Tenant Laws

 

 

 

 

SECURITY DEPOSIT LAWS IN DELAWARE

 

Does Delaware require security deposits? 

Delaware does not require security deposits.

 

Is a security deposit receipt required in Delaware? 

No Statute.

 

How much security deposit can a landlord charge in Delaware? 

In Delaware, a landlords maximum deposit is 1 months rent, for leases longer than a year.  There is no limit when the rental unit is furnished.  (§ 5513 (a))

 

 

Storage Requirements for Security Deposits in Delaware: 

Landlords are required to keep the despot in an escrow account at a federally-insured banking institution, which accepts deposits in Delaware.  Landlords must disclose the location of the bank.  (§ 5513 (a))

 

 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in Delaware? 

No Statute.

 

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in Delaware? 

No Statute.

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Delaware? 

In Delaware, landlords have 20 days to return the security deposit.  (§ 5513 (f))

 

When can a landlord in Delaware withhold security deposit?

At the end of a lease, the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.  However, landlords may withhold all or portions of a tenant’s security deposit if (§ 5513 (c)):

 

  • Unpaid rent and/or fees
  • Reimbursement for reasonable expenses to renovating or rerent the premises caused by an early termination
  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear

 

 

 

Nonrefundable fees: 

No Statute.  Landlords can charge any non-refundable fees they deem fit.

 

Pet Deposits and Additional Fees:

Delaware allows landlords to hold a Pet Deposit at a max of 1 month’s rent.  Damages caused by pets must first be deducted from the pet deposit.  If the pet deposit is insufficient, landlords can then use the security deposit.  (§ 5513 (i))

 

Require written description / itemized list of damages and charges?

Landlords are required to provide written and itemized list of damages.  Tenants have 10 days to object in writing to any items.  (§ 5513 (f))

 

What happens to Delaware landlords that fail to comply returning the security deposit?

Landlords that failure to provide a written itemized list returned by the deadline could be liable for twice the security deposit amount.  Landlords that fail to disclose the location of the security deposit within the first 20 days or keep place the deposit in an approved institution could be liable for twice the security deposit amount.  (§ 5513 (g))

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RENTAL AGREEMENT LAWS IN DELAWARE

 

Rental agreements required in Delaware:

Rental agreements are required for leases 12 months or longer.  We always recommend having a legal lease agreement to prevent future complications.

If you need a lease, Burbz offers an online Delaware rental lease agreement.

 

What are the required lease provisions in Delaware?

Delaware requires certain provisions to be included in the lease agreement.  Besides both the landlord and tenant names, the landlord should also list:

  • Rent Amount and Due Date
  • Security deposit amount and terms
  • Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • Length of the lease agreement
  • Subleasing policy
  • Late Fees and Penalties
  • Landlord’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Pet policies
  • Cleaning Fees
  • Other fees

 

 

 

 

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in Delaware: 

Fixed-End or Year-to-Year: At least a 60 day notice is required.  (§ 5106 (c))

Month-to-Month: At least a 60 day notice is required. (§ 5106 (d))

Week-to-Week: No Statute.

 

 

What happens when the tenant remains without consent after the rental agreement expires or terminates?

No Statute.

 

 

Does the lease automatically renew in Delaware? 

Leases without a 60 day notice from landlords or 45 day notice from tenant renew on a month-to-month basis.  (§ 5106 (d))

 

Rent Increase Notice:

Landlords are required to provide a 60 day notice.  Tenants must respond within 15 days to reject, otherwise it is considered accepted by tenant.  (§ 5107)

 

Rent Grace Period for Residential:

Tenants on fixed-term leases have a 5 day grace period to pay rent.  Landlords without an office in the same county must provide an 8 day grace period.  (§ 5501 (d))

 

Rent Grace Period for Manufactured Homes:

No Statute specifically for manufactured homes.  Follow the residential grace period.

 

 

Prepaid Rent:

No Statute.  Landlords may accept prepaid rent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATE FEES AND LIMITS IN DELAWARE

Late Fees for Residential:

Landlords are allowed to charge late fees. Late fees cannot be charged until a day after the grace period has surpassed.  (§ 5501)

 

Late Fees for Manufactured Homes:

No Statute specifically for manufactured homes.

 

 

 

Limits to late fees in Delaware:

Late fees cannot exceed 5% of the monthly rent. (§ 5501 (d))

 

 

DELAWARE LEASE TERMINATIONS / NOTICES TO QUIT

 

In Delaware, lease agreements between landlords and tenants can be terminated.  Read our blog for landlords about handling early lease terminations.  Here are the cause and effects:

 

What is the Pay or Quit for Nonpayment requirement in Delaware?

Delaware allows the landlord to bring an action for summary possession of the rental unit immediately after the grace period, requiring a 5 days notice to pay the rent balance or lease the premises.  (§ 5502 (a))

 

How many days must a landlord allow before terminating for a Lease Violation?

Landlords must provide a 7 day notice to cure, allowing the tenant to remedy the issue. (§ 5513 (a))

 

 

Delaware allows immediate lease termination if the tenant is responsible for:

Delaware allows landlords to immediately terminate the lease if the tenant causes or threatens to cause irreparable harm to any person or property. Or, if the tenant was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or felony cause by the threat or caused irreparable harm to any person or property.  (§ 5513 (b))

 

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How many days when terminating for illegal drug-related activities?

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

DELAWARE LAWS ON REPAIRS

 

Delaware tenants are allowed to deduct repairs from rent, not to exceed the lesser of $200 of half month’s rent.  Landlords must provide a habitable property for tenants to live and enjoy.  There are specific provisions defining how tenants can remedy repairs if the landlord fails to do so.  

How many days must the tenant give for non-emergency repairs? 

Tenants must provide  30 days to allow landlords to remedy repairs.  (§5307(a)(1))

 

Can tenant withhold rent for landlords’ failure to provide essential services (i.e. water, heat, etc.)?

Landlords have 48 hours to remedy essential services.  Failure to do so, tenants may (§5308):

  • Immediately terminate the rental agreement
  • Keep 2/3 per diem rent
  • Procure equivalent substitute housing, and landlord be liable for additional expenses up to an amount of half month’s rent

 

 

If the landlord fails to take necessary action, then the tenants can legally:

Tenants have the following remedies depending on whether the repairs are essential services or not:

  • Pay for repairs and deduct the lesser of $200 or half months rent
  • Immediately terminate the lease
  • Keep a per diem rent
  • Find substitute housing

 

 

 

DELAWARE LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES

What must the landlord provide in good and working order?

Delaware defines certain responsibilities for landlords, including (Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 47a-7(a)):

  • Must comply with all applicable building codes affecting health and safety
  • Provide a rental unit that does not endanger the tenants health, welfare or safety
  • Keep the common areas clean and in good sanitary condition
  • Maintain all repairs
  • Maintain all electrical, plumbing and other facilities in good working order

 

Do landlords have to provide appliances and services?

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

DELAWARE TENANT LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Tenant must maintain a fit and habitable premise and is prohibited from intentionally or negligently damaging or removing any part of the premise.  Tenants must conduct themselves and others in a manner not to disturb the neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of their premises. (§ 5503)

 

 

 

 

 

DELAWARE EVICTION LAWS

 

Delaware requires a landlord to file a 15 Day Notice to Vacate action to evict a tenant.  

Landlords may evict tenants for the following:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Breach of lease agreement
  • Tenants actions affecting the health and safety of other tenants on premises
  • Tenants actions causing physical damage to the premises

 

Can landlords do a ‘self help’ eviction?

In Delaware, it is illegal for landlords to attempt to evict a tenant not through a court order.  Tenants may be able to immediately terminate the lease and be rewarded three months rent or double damages. (§ 5313)

Are landlords allowed to lock out tenants by changing locks?

Landlords cannot change locks. (§ 5313)

Are landlords allowed to turn off utilities?

Landlords cannot turn off utilities. (§ 5313)

Tenants may not be evicted for non-payment of rent if:

After receiving the unconditional quit notice, tenants can prevent an eviction by paying their outstanding balance of rent if the landlord will accept.  (§ 5502 (d))

 

 

Do landlords have to make a reasonable attempt to mitigate damages when re-renting the rental unit?

Yes.  Landlords must make reasonable efforts to find a replacement tenant at fair market value. (§ 5507 (d))

 

 

DELAWARE LAWS ON RETALIATION

 

Delaware laws state a landlord cannot terminate a lease, refuse a lease renewal or raise rents when:

 

  • Tenant submitted, or threatened to, a complaint to government agency for building or health code violation
  • Tenant has sent written complaints to the landlords about repairs
  • Tenant has started or joined a tenant’s organization
  • Tenant has pursued or is pursuing legal remedy against the landlord

 

Delaware defines a period of time of 90 days that would result in a retaliatory action. (§ 5516)

 

 

 

 

LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

 

Delaware has no statutes to protect a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or stalking.  Burbz encourages landlords to work with these victims in good faith and help prevent or reduce the situation.  This includes changing locks or letting the victim out of their lease agreement to find a safer home.

 

Verify Claim:

A landlord is allowed to verify claim of Domestic Violence when an early termination is requested. (§ 5316)

 

 

Can a tenant terminate the lease if they are a victim of domestic violence: 

Tenants that are victims can terminate their portion of the lease with a 30 day notice.  (§ 5314(6))  Tenants cannot be delinquent in rent to take advantage of this early termination.  (§ 5316 (d))

 

 

Who is responsible for Recovery of Losses: 

No Statute.

 

 

Must Landlords Change Locks:

No Statute.

 

 

DELAWARE LAWS FOR LOCKS AND LANDLORDS

 

Are landlords requested to change locks before new tenants:

No Statute.  Before new tenants moves in, landlords are not required to change the locks.  It is always recommended to do so.

 

 

Are landlords required to install any specific security device:

No Statute.

 

 

Do landlords have to change locks for domestic violence victims:

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

 

DELAWARE PET LAWS & PET POLICIES

Delaware Landlord-Tenant Laws does not have any specific pet laws.  Landlords are legally allowed to create their own pet policies and requirements.  Including tolerance for breeds, size, types, and more.  Read our guide to pet policies.

 

 

Any limitations on pets that landlords can impose?

Any damage caused by pets must first be paid out of the Pet Deposit.  If insufficient funds, the landlord can then utilize the security deposit for the remainder. (§ 5513 (i))

 

 

What are the max pet deposits in Delaware:

Pet deposits cannot exceed 1 months rent.  Landlords can also charge non-refundable fees.   Deposits follow the same provisions as security deposits regarding interest earned.

 

 

 

 

DO LANDLORDS IN DELAWARE NEED A RENTAL LICENSE?

 

According to Delaware Landlord-Tenant Laws, landlords do not need a rental license in Delaware.

Landlords and owner of a residential rental property do not need to register the property.  Local cities may have different requirements, we recommend you research the local city specific laws.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTICE OF ENTRY LAWS IN DELAWARE

Do landlords in Delaware have to provide notice of entry? 

Delaware does require landlords to provide a 48 hour notice.  This includes:

  • Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
  • Improvements to property
  • Inspections
  • Showing prospective tenants, contractors, mortgagees or buyers.

 

When can a landlord enter without notice:

Due to an emergency.

 

 

Can landlords enter for non-emergency maintenance and repairs?

Yes.  48 hours notice. (§ 5509 (b))

 

 

Can landlords enter for showings?

Yes.  48 hours notice. The tenant may agree in writing to alter the required notice to less than 48 hours if they desired.  (§ 5509 (b))

 

 

 

Can landlords enter for emergencies without notice?

Yes.  48 hours notice. (§ 5509 (b))

 

 

Can landlords enter during Tenant’s extended absence?

No Statute.

 

 

Can landlords enter for pesticide use?

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

DELAWARE SUBLEASE AND ASSIGNMENT PROVISIONS

Is subleasing permitted?

Yes.  (§ 5508(a))

 

 

Do you need the landlord consent?

If the lease includes a clause stating the landlord allows or requires consent. (§ 5508(a))

 

 

Can the LL / lease prohibit subletting?

Landlords should include language in their rental agreement to prohibit without approval.  (§ 5508(b))

 

 

 

 

TENANT ABANDONED PROPERTY IN DELAWARE

 

Delaware Landlord-Tenant Laws do not have any statutes stating abandonment requirements for duration.  (§ 5507)

 

Tenants must notice landlords in writing no later than the 1st day of extended absences.  (§ 5506)

 

How long must landlords hold Tenant’s personal property?

No Statute.

 

How long notice must landlords give if law enforcement has legally locked them out?

No Statute.   

 

Can the landlords sell property to pay for outstanding debts?

No Statute.  

 

What happens to excess proceeds?

No Statute.

 

How long must landlords keep records of the sale for?

No Statute.

 

Landlord must store the tenant’s abandoned property where:

No Statute.

 

 

 

Are the landlords liable for damage?

No Statute.

 

 

 

REQUIRED RENTAL AGREEMENT DISCLOSURES FOR DELAWARE LEASES

 

Delaware Landlord-Tenant Laws requires the following be included with all Rental Agreement Disclosures:

 

Lead Paint Disclosure:  Yes.  Federal law requires every landlord to disclose known information on lead-based paint and hazards.  Landlords must provide this EPA-approved pamphlet.

Owner Name and Address:  Must disclose the names and addresses of all persons who are owners of the rental unit.  (§ 5105)

Summary of Landlord-Tenant Laws: summary of the Landlord-Tenant Code, as prepared by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office or its successor agency, shall 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 (§ 5118)

Copy of Lease: Landlords must provide a written copy of the lease agreement. 

 

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

State of Delaware Property Chapters and Statutes

Delaware Fraud and Consumer Protection Division

Delaware Housing Commission

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Delaware

Delaware Department of Insurance

 

 

DELAWARE RELATED COURT INFO & LINKS

Delaware Small Claims Court Limits:

$15,000 is the limit for small claims court.  (§ 9301(1))

 

 

Delaware Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims:

Yes.  (§ 9301(3))

 

Delaware Small Claims Court 

Delaware Court System

Delaware Attorney General

Delaware State Bar Association

 

 

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