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Delaware Landlord Tenant Law

Delaware Landlord Tenant Law

Delaware Landlord Tenant Law: A Comprehensive Overview


As a landlord or tenant in Delaware, it’s important to be familiar with the state’s landlord-tenant laws. These laws are in place to protect both landlords and tenants and regulate the relationship between them. As a tenant, knowing your rights can help you avoid problems with your landlord, while as a landlord, understanding the law can help you avoid legal issues and disputes with your tenants. In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of the Delaware Landlord Tenant Law.

1. Rental Agreements

The first step in any landlord-tenant relationship is the rental agreement. This is a legally binding contract that outlines the terms of the tenancy. In Delaware, a rental agreement is required to be in writing if the lease is for a year or more. However, verbal rental agreements are also enforceable in Delaware.

If a written rental agreement is used, it must include the following information:

– Names and addresses of the landlord and tenant(s)
– Rental amount and payment due date
– Security deposit amount and terms of use
– Length of the lease and any renewals
– Notice required to terminate the lease
– The tenant’s responsibilities for utilities, repairs, and maintenance
– Any restrictions on the use of the property
– Any other provisions agreed upon by the landlord and tenant.

2. Security Deposits

Landlords in Delaware are allowed to require tenants to pay a security deposit at the beginning of the tenancy. The maximum amount a landlord can require is one month’s rent, and it must be returned within 20 days of the end of the lease, minus any deductions for damages or unpaid rent.

Within 20 days of the move-in date, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written statement that lists any existing damages or defects in the property. The tenant should review this list and notify the landlord in writing of any errors or omissions within three days of receiving the statement.

3. Landlord’s Obligations

As a landlord in Delaware, you have certain obligations that you must fulfill to maintain the rental property and protect the tenant’s rights. These include:

– Providing a safe and habitable property – the landlord is responsible for ensuring that the property is free from hazards and meets all health and safety codes.
– Making repairs – the landlord must address any issues that arise in the property, such as leaky plumbing or faulty electrical wiring.
– Keeping the common areas clean and safe – the landlord is responsible for maintaining common areas such as hallways and sidewalks.
– Giving notice before entering – the landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice before entering the property, except in emergencies.

If the landlord does not fulfill these obligations, the tenant may have the right to terminate the lease or seek legal remedies.

4. Tenant’s Obligations

Tenants in Delaware also have obligations to fulfill. These include:

– Paying rent on time – the tenant must pay the rent on time according to the terms of the lease.
– Keeping the property clean and safe – the tenant is responsible for keeping the property clean and free from hazards, and to report any damages or defects to the landlord.
– Refraining from causing damage – the tenant must not cause any damage to the property.
– Giving notice before moving out – the tenant must give the landlord written notice before moving out according to the terms of the lease.

If the tenant does not fulfill these obligations, the landlord may have the right to terminate the lease or seek legal remedies.

5. Evictions

If a tenant violates the terms of the lease or fails to pay rent, the landlord may be able to evict them. In Delaware, the eviction process begins with the landlord giving the tenant written notice of the violation and requesting that they correct the issue within a certain timeframe. If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord may file a complaint with the Justice of the Peace Court for eviction.

If a court orders an eviction, the landlord must then obtain a Writ of Possession from the court and can use the services of the local sheriff to physically remove the tenant and their belongings from the property.

6. Discrimination

In Delaware, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, or sexual orientation. Discrimination can take many forms, such as refusing to rent to someone based on any of these factors, providing different terms or conditions, or harassing tenants. If a tenant believes they have been the victim of discrimination, they can file a complaint with the Delaware Division of Human Relations.


Landlord-tenant laws can be complex, and it’s important to have a thorough understanding of your rights and obligations as either a landlord or a tenant. By following the rules and regulations established by Delaware Landlord Tenant Law, landlords and tenants can avoid legal disputes and live in a mutually beneficial relationship. Stay informed, stay compliant, and always consult qualified legal counsel when needed!

Frequently Asked Questions About Delaware Landlord Tenant Law

What is Delaware Landlord Tenant Law?

Delaware Landlord Tenant Law regulates relations between landlords and tenants in the state of Delaware. This is, after all, a curious relationship in which both parties are mutually dependent on each other, but both are vulnerable to the other’s carelessness. Delaware Landlord Tenant Law attempts to make sure each group treats the other fairly by establishing what fair is.

There are two sources for Delaware Landlord Tenant Law. The first and the most important is the Residential Landlord-Tenant Code, which applies to both private commercial landlords and to the actions of supplies of subsidized housing rentals. The other source is the Mobile Home Lots and Leases Act.

What does Delaware Landlord Tenant Law say about security deposits?

The amount that your landlord can charge you as a security deposit depends, according to Delaware Landlord Tenant Law, upon the length of your lease. If your lease for one year or more, then your landlord cannot charge you more than one month’s rent as a security deposit.

However, there is not such limit if the lease is for less than one year according to Delaware Landlord Tenant Law. This does lead to the somewhat bizarre legal situation of a landlord charging for more than one month’s rent as a security deposit, and then their tenant staying for more than one year. After the first year of rental is over, according to Delaware Landlord Tenant Law, the landlord must refund the tenant the portion of their security deposit which was in excess of one month’s rent.

Once you pay your landlord your security deposit, they are supposed to put it into an escrow account according to Delaware Landlord Tenant Law. The location of the escrow account must be revealed to you if you inquire, but the landlord may take up to twenty days to tell you the location of the escrow account. Delaware Landlord Tenant Law says that if the landlord does not reveal the location, then they automatically forfeit their rights to the security deposit.

What does Delaware Landlord Tenant Law say about application fees?

Delaware Landlord Tenant Law does allow for landlords to charge their clients an application fee, which is different from a security deposit. An application fees is meant to allow a landlord to determine the credit of a prospective tenant. According to Delaware Landlord Tenant Law, this application fee may not exceed 10% of the monthly rent, and, if the monthly rent is more than $500, then the most than an application fee can be is $50.

What does Delaware Landlord Tenant Law say about evictions?

Quite a bit, of course, but the most important thing to take away is that a landlord who evicts a tenant without a valid court order from the Justices of the Peace is in violation of Delaware Landlord Tenant Law. Before taking court action, a landlord must send the tenant a termination notice, or else they cannot proceed with eviction according to Delaware Landlord Tenant Law.