Many similar questions arise often when dealing with various legal subjects. We have put together a list of the most frequently asked questions. If you do not find an answer to your question, please contact us.
Can I charge a late fee in Delaware?
Yes, however, the late fee may not exceed five (5) percent of the monthly rent.
Are Landlords required to renew leases in Delaware?
No, provided that the Landlord is not discriminating or retaliating against the Tenant, the Landlord is not required to renew a lease in Delaware.
How much notice must either the Landlord or Tenant give that the lease will not be renewed? Does it make a difference when the lease is month to month?
If either the Landlord or Tenant has decided not to renew, the parties are obligated to give sixty (60) days notice prior to the end of the lease term. This is true even if the lease is month to month. The only exception is if the Landlord is modifying the lease such as by increasing the rent. § 5106.
How do I increase the rent or change the lease?
If a Landlord wishes to renew, but wants to increase the rent or change another lease term, the Landlord must send notice of the proposed changes sixty (60) days prior to the end of the lease term. Then the Tenant has until forty-five (45) days prior to the end of the lease term to notify the Landlord the Tenant rejects the changes and is moving out at the end of the lease term. Silence on the part of the Tenant is deemed acceptance of the changes. § 5107.
What happens when neither party sends notice to the other party sixty (60) days prior to the end of the lease?
When the Landlord does not give notice of non-renewal or notice of lease changes sixty (60) days prior to the end of the Lease, and the Tenant does not give 45 days notice prior to the end of the lease, the lease continues on a month to month with the same rent amount due and owing. § 5108.
What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
In Delaware, the maximum amount you can collect as a security deposit is one month’s rent. The security must be placed in an escrow account in a federally insured bank. § 5514.
My Tenant has moved out, what do I do with their security deposit?
You must provide them the security deposit or a statement showing the damages or past due rent to which their security was applied within twenty (20) days. Landlords are subject to double damages if they fail to do so within twenty (20) days. § 5514
Are there circumstances where I am required to release a Tenant from a lease agreement?
Yes, a Landlord is required to release in the following circumstances:
When the Tenant’s present employer requires the Tenant to move in excess of thirty miles (not when the Tenant wants to take a new job with a new employer)
When the Tenant or immediate family of the Tenant who occupies the unit becomes seriously ill or dies
When the Tenant is accepted to senior citizens’ or retirement housing facility, or a group living facility
When the Tenant is accepted into subsidized housing
When the Tenant enters active duty of the military after the lease is signed
When the Tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual offenses, or stalking. In addition, a Landlord is required to release a Tenant from the lease if there are certain habitability issues with respect to the apartment. § 5314.
What do I do about holdover Tenants?
If you lease so provides, you may charge them up to double the monthly rent, on a daily pro rata basis.
How much notice do I have to give a Tenant in order to evict them?
In non payment cases, a five day notice must be sent before filing a complaint. § 5502. If the Tenant has breached a condition of the lease apart from non-payment of rent then the Landlord must give a seven day notice during which the Tenant may remedy the breach. § 5513.
How long does the eviction process take in Delaware?
On average, about eight to nine weeks from the date of filing the complaint until the lockout.
What should I do if a Tenant abandons property in the apartment after an eviction?
After a lockout, if a Tenant fails to remove the property, the Landlord may immediately remove and store the possessions at Tenant’s expense. The Tenant then has seven (7) days to claim the property and reimburse the Landlord for a reasonable amount of removal and storage costs. § 5715
Can I charge Tenants my attorney’s fees if I have to take them to court because of non payment of rent?
No, Delaware law does not permit Landlords to charge Tenants attorneys’ fees, even if the lease provides for attorneys’ fees. § 5111
Does Delaware have any anti-discrimination laws applicable to Landlord Tenant relationships?
Yes, the following are all protected classes in Delaware: race, creed, religion, marital status, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or occupation or because the Tenant or person has a child or children in the family. § 5116.
Do I have to give a Tenant anything at the beginning of the Lease?
Yes, you must give a Tenant the summary of the Landlord-Tenant Code prepared by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Delaware Attorney General’s Office or the Tenant may plead ignorance of the law as a defense. § 5118.
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.