Delaware Rental Laws
Delaware Residential Landlord-Tenant Code
|Termination for Nonpayment Notice|
|Termination for Lease Violation Notice||7-Day Notice|
|Small Claim Court Limit||Delaware Small Claim Court Limit is $15,000|
|Handling Abandoned Property||Del. Code Ann. title 25, § 5507, § 5715|
|Penalty for Self-Help Eviction||Triple damages or an amount equal to 3 times the per diem rent for the period of time the tenant was excluded from the unit (whichever is greater)|
|Tenant Withholding Rent for Repairs||Del. Code Ann. title 25, § 5307, § 5308|
Written notice from tenant required
|Required Disclosures||Non-refundable fees; Owner or Agent Identity; Summary of Landlord-Tenant Laws|
|Non-Refundable Fees||No, except for actual services rendered Del. Code Ann. title 25, § 5311|
|Security Deposit Rules||Security Deposit Amount not to exceed 1 month’s rent where the rental agreement is for 1 year or more.|
For month-to-month no limit for the first year, after that limit is one month.
Deadline to itemize and return the deposit 20 Days.
|Month-to-Month Notice||60 Days Notice|
|Payment of Rent||Late charge not to exceed 5% of the monthly rent. The late change should not be imposed within 5 Days of the rent payment due date.|
Rent Payment and Notices
§ 5501. Tenant obligations; rent.
(a) The landlord and tenant shall agree to the consideration for rent. In the absence of such agreement, the tenant shall pay to the landlord a reasonable sum for the use and occupation of the rental unit.
(b) Rent shall be payable at the time and place agreed to by the parties. Unless otherwise agreed, the entire rent shall be payable at the beginning of any term for 1 month or less, while 1 month’s rent shall be payable at the beginning of each month of a longer term.
(c) Except for purposes of payment, rent shall be uniformly apportioned from day to day.
(d) Where the rental agreement provides for a late charge payable to the landlord for rent not paid at the agreed time, such late charge shall not exceed 5 percent of the monthly rent. A late charge is considered as additional rent for the purposes of this Code. The late charge shall not be imposed within 5 days of the agreed time for payment of rent. The landlord shall, in the county in which the rental unit is located, maintain an office or other permanent place for receipt of payments, where rent may be timely paid. Failure to maintain such an office, or other permanent place of payment where rent may be timely paid, shall extend the agreed on time for payment of rent by 3 days beyond the due date.
(e) If a landlord accepts a cash payment for rent, the landlord shall, within 15 days, give to the tenant a receipt for that payment. The landlord shall, for a period of 3 years, maintain a record of all cash receipts for rent.
Handling Abandoned Property
§ 5507. Landlord remedies for absence or abandonment.
(a) If the rental agreement provides for notification to the landlord by the tenant of an anticipated extended absence as defined in this Code or in the rental agreement, and the tenant fails to comply with such requirement, the tenant shall indemnify the landlord for any harm resulting from such absence.
(b) The landlord may, during any extended absence of the tenant, enter the rental unit as is reasonably necessary for inspection, maintenance and safekeeping.
(c) Unless otherwise agreed to in the rental agreement, the tenant shall use the rental unit only as the tenant’s abode. A violation of this covenant shall constitute the breach of a rule under § 5511 of this title, and shall entitle the landlord to proceed as specified elsewhere in this chapter.
(d) If the tenant wrongfully quits the rental unit and unequivocally indicates by words or deeds the tenant’s intention not to resume tenancy, such action by the tenant shall entitle the landlord to proceed as specified elsewhere in this chapter and the tenant shall be liable for the lesser of the following for such abandonment:
(1) The entire rent due for the remainder of the term and expenses for actual damages caused by the tenant (other than normal wear and tear) which are incurred in preparing the rental unit for a new tenant; or
(2) All rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to re-rent the premises at a fair rental; plus the difference between such fair rental and the rent agreed to in the prior rental agreement; plus expenses incurred to re-rent; repair damage caused by the tenant (beyond normal wear and tear); plus a reasonable commission, if incurred by the landlord for the re-renting of the premises. In any event, the landlord has a duty to mitigate damages.
(e) If there is no appeal from a judgment granting summary possession under subsection (c) or (d) of this section, the landlord may immediately remove and store, at the tenant’s expense, any and all items left on the premises by the tenant. Seven days after the appeal period has expired, the property shall be deemed abandoned and may be disposed of by the landlord without further notice or liability.
Tenant Withholding Rent for Repairs
§ 5307. Tenant’s remedies relating to the rental unit; repair and deduction from rent.
(a) If the landlord of a rental unit fails to repair, maintain or keep in a sanitary condition the leased premises or perform in any other manner required by statute, code or ordinance, or as agreed to in the a rental agreement; and, if after being notified in writing by the tenant to do so, the landlord:
(1) Fails to remedy such failure within 30 days from the receipt of the notice; or
(2) Fails to initiate reasonable corrective measures where appropriate, including, but not limited to, the obtaining of an estimate of the prospective costs of the correction, within 10 days from the receipt of the notice;
Then the tenant may immediately do or have done the necessary work in a professional manner. After the work is done, the tenant may deduct from the rent a reasonable sum, not exceeding $200, or 1/2 of 1 month’s rent, whichever is less, for the expenditures by submitting to the landlord copies of those receipts covering at least the sum deducted.
(b) In no event may a tenant repair or cause anything to be repaired at the landlord’s expense when the condition complained of was caused by the want of due care by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family or another person on the premises with the tenant’s consent.
(c) A tenant who is otherwise delinquent in the payment of rent may not take advantage of the remedies provided in this section.
(d) The tenant is liable for any damage to persons or property where such damage was caused by the tenant or by someone authorized by the tenant in making said repairs.
§ 5514. Security deposit.
(a) (1) A landlord may require the payment of security deposit.
(2) No landlord may require a security deposit in excess of 1 month’s rent where the rental agreement is for 1 year or more.
(3) No landlord may require a security deposit in excess of 1 month’s rent (with the exception of federally-assisted housing regulations), for primary residential tenancies of undefined terms or month to month where the tenancy has lasted 1 year or more. After the expiration of 1 year, the landlord shall immediately return, as a credit to the tenant, any security deposit amount in excess of 1 month’s rent, including such amount which when combined with the amount of any surety bond is in excess of 1 month’s rent.
(4) The security deposit limits set forth above shall not apply to furnished rental units.
(b) 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. Such account shall be designated as a security deposits account and shall not be used in the operation of any business by the landlord. The landlord shall disclose to the tenant the location of the security deposit account. The security deposit principal shall be held and administered for the benefit of the tenant, and the tenant’s claim to such money shall be prior to that of any creditor of the landlord, including, but not limited to, a trustee in bankruptcy, even if such money is commingled.
(c) The purpose of the security deposit shall be:
(1) To reimburse the landlord for actual damages caused to the premises by the tenant which exceed normal wear and tear, or which cannot be corrected by painting and ordinary cleaning; and/or
(2) To pay the landlord for all rental arrearage due under the rental agreement, including late charges and rental due for premature termination or abandonment of the rental agreement by the tenant; and/or
(3) To reimburse the landlord for all reasonable expenses incurred in renovating and rerenting the premises caused by the premature termination of the rental agreement by the tenants, which includes termination pursuant to § 5314 of this title, providing that reimbursement caused by termination pursuant to § 5314 of this title shall not exceed 1 month’s rent.
(d) Where a tenant is required to pay a fee to determine the tenant’s credit worthiness, such fee is an application fee. A landlord may charge an application fee, not to exceed the greater of either 10 percent of the monthly rent for the rental unit or $50, to determine a tenant’s credit worthiness. The landlord shall, upon receipt of any money paid as an application fee, furnish a receipt to the tenant for the full amount paid by the tenant, and shall maintain for a period of at least 2 years, complete records of all application fees charged and amounts received for each such fee. Where the landlord unlawfully demands more than the allowable application fee, the tenant shall be entitled to damages equal to double the amount charged as an application fee by the landlord.
(e) If the landlord is not entitled to all or any portion of the security deposit, the landlord shall remit the security deposit within 20 days of the expiration or termination of the rental agreement.
(f) Within 20 days after the termination or expiration of any rental agreement, the landlord shall provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages to the premises and the estimated costs of repair for each and shall tender payment for the difference between the security deposit and such costs of repair of damage to the premises. Failure to do so shall constitute an acknowledgment by the landlord that no payment for damages is due. Tenant’s acceptance of a payment submitted with an itemized list of damages shall constitute agreement on the damages as specified by the landlord, unless the tenant, within 10 days of the tenant’s receipt of such tender of payment, objects in writing to the amount withheld by the landlord.
(g) Penalties. — (1) Failure to remit the security deposit or the difference between the security deposit and the amount set forth in the list of damages within 20 days from the expiration or termination of the rental agreement shall entitle the tenant to double the amount wrongfully withheld.
(2) Failure by a landlord to disclose the location of the security deposit account within 20 days of a written request by a tenant or failure by the landlord to deposit the security deposit in a federally-insured financial institution with an office that accepts deposits within the State, shall constitute forfeiture of the security deposit by the landlord to the tenant. Failure by the landlord to return the full security deposit to the tenant within 20 days from the effective date of forfeiture shall entitle the tenant to double the amount of the security deposit.
(h) All communications and notices, including the return of any security deposit under this section, shall be directed to the landlord at the address specified in the rental agreement and to the tenant at an address specified in the rental agreement or to a forwarding address, if provided in writing by the tenant at or prior to the termination of the rental agreement. Failure by the tenant to provide such address shall relieve the landlord of landlord’s responsibility to give notice herein and landlord’s liability for double the amount of the security deposit as provided herein, but the landlord shall continue to be liable to the tenant for any unused portion of the security deposit; provided, that the tenant shall make a claim in writing to the landlord within 1 year from the termination or expiration of the rental agreement.
(i) Pet deposits. — (1) A landlord may require a pet deposit. Damage to the rental unit caused by an animal shall first be deducted from the pet deposit. Where the pet deposit is insufficient, such damages may be deducted from the security deposit. A pet deposit is subject to subsections (b), (e), (f), (g) and (h) of this section.
(2) No landlord may require a pet deposit in excess of 1 month’s rent, regardless of the duration of the rental agreement.
(3) A landlord may require an additional deposit from a tenant with a pet, but shall not require any pet deposit from a tenant if the pet is a duly certified and trained support animal for a disabled person who is a resident of the rental unit.
(j) If the rental agreement so specifies, a landlord may increase the security deposit commensurate with the rent. If the increase of the security deposit will exceed 10 percent of the monthly rent, payment of the increased security deposit shall be prorated over the term of the rental agreement, except in the case of month-to-month tenancy, in which case payment of the increase shall be prorated over a period of 4 months.