Delaware Landlord Tenant Law: FAQs
Let’s understand Delaware landlord tenant law and regulations through the following –
What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
When the rental agreement is for 1 year or more, or month to month tenancies that last one year or more, the security deposit may not exceed an amount equal to one month’s rent. However, the landlord may require a security deposit in excess of 1 month’s rent for a furnished rental unit, federally-assisted housing , and where the tenancy is expected to last less than 1 year.
Additionally, each security deposit shall be placed by the landlord in an escrow bank account in a federally-insured banking institution with an office that accepts deposits within the state.
Please Note: The landlord must disclose to the tenant the location of the security deposit account.
Landlords and tenants do have the option to use “surety bonds”. A tenant would pay a non-refundable deposit for a bond instead of a security deposit. This will provide the landlord with the safety of a security deposit in place by the bond company while it permits the tenant to pay a lower cost, albeit a non-refundable cost.
Is it true that I must maintain an office for the receipt of rental payments?
Yes, landlords shall, in the county in which the rental unit is located, maintain an office or other permanent place for receipt of rental payments. Failure to maintain such an office, or other permanent place of payment where rent may be paid, shall extend the agreed upon time for payment of rent by 3 days beyond the due date.
May I charge a Pet Security Deposit?
A separate pet security deposit may be assessed, however, may not exceed an amount equal to 1 months rent. A Pet security deposit is not permitted for service animals.
May I charge a fee for late rent or a returned payment?
If the possibility of late fees are stated within the lease, late charges may not exceed $40. A late charge is considered additional rent and may not be imposed until 5 days after the date rent is due. Landlords may add reasonable fees to the rental payment to cover costs associated with returned payments, plus any charges the financial institution assesses.
My tenant has moved out, what do I do with their security deposit?
Within 20 days of lease termination or expiration of any rental agreement, the landlord shall provide the tenant with a refund of the full security deposit or an itemized list of damages, with the estimated costs of repairs for each deduction and shall tender payment for the difference between the security deposit and such costs of repair.
What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
At times landlords may try claiming deductions for items that are often characterized by the court as normal wear and tear. This situation may be prevented by realistically evaluating each deduction, providing proof of damage, as well as including repair receipts and pictures.
How can I end a Delaware lease agreement?
Landlords may terminate a lease by giving the tenant advance written notice of a minimum of 60 days’ as specified below:
- Fixed Term Lease: Notice shall be given to tenant prior to the expiration of the term of the lease.
- Month to Month Lease: Notice shall be given on the first day of the month following the actual notice.
Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable, or If the tenant is called to active military duty. Additionally, a tenant may seek release from a rental agreement with the court when a landlord does not abide by the state’s landlord obligations.
How long does the eviction process take?
As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, with no complications, the eviction process usually takes approximately 4-5 weeks.
Can I require my tenants to obtain renter’s insurance?
Landlords may require tenants to obtain rental insurance.
How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.
Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the lease.
Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
Landlords must give their tenants at least 48 hours’ notice of intent to enter the rental premises. However, when repairs have been requested by the tenant, landlords may enter between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. In the case of an emergency the landlord may enter at any time.
Aside from the lease agreement, are there any additional documents necessary?
If the leased premises was constructed prior to 1978, the landlord must provide all tenants with the Lead-Based Paint EPA Disclosure and Lead-Based Paint EPA Pamphlet. The Landlord must also provide the tenant with a copy of an executed lease, free of charge.
In addition, a summary of The Delaware Residential Landlord Tenant Code” as prepared by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office is required to be given to the new tenant at the beginning of the rental term and is included below under Addendums.
What are renters’ rights in Delaware?
As per Delaware landlord tenant law, renters have the right to a safe and habitable living space, as outlined in the warranty of habitability. Landlords are required to make necessary repairs in a timely manner, maintain common areas and keep the property in compliance with state and local health and safety codes. Tenants also have the right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of their rental unit. Landlords must provide proper notice before entering the rental unit, usually at least 24 hours in advance. Tenants cannot be evicted without a valid reason and proper legal process, such as non-payment of rent or violation of the lease agreement. Tenants also have the right to withhold rent if necessary repairs are not made by the landlord.
Moreover, Delaware has a rent escrow law that allows tenants to place rent payments into an escrow account if a landlord fails to make necessary repairs. Tenants must provide written notice to the landlord before placing rent into escrow.
It’s important to note that Tenants also have the right to terminate the lease if the landlord fails to comply with the warranty of habitability and the right to sue for damages if the landlord breaches the warranty of habitability.
In Delaware, how much advance notice must a landlord provide a renter before they vacate?
In Delaware, the amount of notice a landlord must give a tenant to move out depends on the reason for the eviction and the type of tenancy.
- For non-payment of rent, the landlord must give the tenant 3 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the property.
- For lease violations, the landlord must give the tenant 10 days’ notice to cure the violation or vacate the property.
- For cause, such as illegal activity, the landlord may give the tenant an unconditional quit notice, which requires the tenant to vacate the property immediately.
For a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant 60 days’ notice to terminate the tenancy, and for a fixed-term lease, the notice period is typically outlined in the lease agreement.
It’s important to note that, this notice period is not applicable if the tenant violates a lease, in that case, the notice period is usually 10 days, or in case of non-payment of rent, in that case, the notice period is usually 3 days.
Is Delaware a tenant or landlord-friendly state?
Delaware is considered to be relatively tenant-friendly, as it has several laws in place that protect the rights of tenants. For example, the warranty of habitability requires landlords to keep rental properties in livable condition, and tenants have the right to withhold rent or terminate the lease if necessary repairs are not made by the landlord.
Additionally, Delaware has a rent escrow law that allows tenants to place rent payments into an escrow account if a landlord fails to make necessary repairs. This gives tenants leverage to get the repairs done and ensures that the landlord doesn’t collect rent while neglecting the repairs.
Tenants also have the right to terminate the lease if the landlord fails to comply with the warranty of habitability and the right to sue for damages if the landlord breaches the warranty of habitability.
How long before a tenant in Delaware must provide notice?
In Delaware, the amount of notice a tenant must give a landlord before moving out depends on the type of tenancy.
For a month-to-month tenancy, the tenant must give the landlord 60 days’ notice before vacating the property.
For a fixed-term lease, the notice period is typically outlined in the lease agreement. It’s usually 30 days, but it may vary depending on the lease agreement.
It’s important to note that, if the tenant violates the lease agreement, such as by failing to pay rent or causing damages to the property, the landlord may be able to terminate the lease immediately and may not have to give the tenant any notice. Also, if the tenant is planning to break the lease before the end of the term, they may be liable for the unpaid rent for the remainder of the lease term.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.