Delaware Landlord Tenant Laws
March 2, 2023
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|Required Disclosures |
Copy of rental agreement
Summary of landlord-tenant laws
Security deposit location
Rent and Fees
Application Fees: 10% of monthly rent or $50, whichever is greater
Rent Control: N/A
Late Fee Limit: 5% of monthly rent
Grace Period Minimum: 5 days
Amount Limit: 1 month’s rent, plus pet and/or furniture deposits
Return Within: 20 days
Notice: 48 hours’
Permitted Times of Entry: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
|Fair Housing Protections |
Source of income
Rent Demand Notice: 5-day pay-or-quit notice
Notice for Lease Violation: 7-day cure-or-quit notice
Unconditional Notice to Quit: Immediate
Delaware Landlord-Tenant Law
Understand the essential Delaware landlord tenant laws before enforcing your own rental policies. Find more information in the Delaware state law code.
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Every Delaware lease agreement must disclose the name and address of the owner and/or the owner’s agent.
Copy of Rental Agreement
The landlord must provide a copy of the written rental agreement to each tenant, free of charge.
Summary of Landlord-Tenant Laws
The landlord should provide each tenant with this summary of the Delaware Landlord-Tenant Code at the beginning of the rental term.
Security Deposit Location
Landlords in Delaware must disclose to tenants the location of the account where their security deposit is kept.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: Unless otherwise specified in the lease agreement, rent is due at the beginning of each month (Del. Laws 25 § 5501(b)).
- Application Fees: Landlords may charge an application fee of up to $50 or 10% of monthly rent, whichever is greater (Del. Laws 25 § 5514(d)).
- Rent Increases: There is no statewide rent control in Delaware.
- Late Fees: 5% of monthly rent (Del. Laws 25 § 5501(d)).
- Grace Period: 5 days (Del. Laws 25 § 5501(d)).
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: The service fee for bad checks in Delaware is undetermined.
- Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct: Tenants in Delaware are permitted to both repair and deduct or withhold rent in case of a breach of contract by the landlord.
- For repair and deduct: If a landlord in Delaware fails to maintain the unit, make repairs, keep the property in a sanitary condition, or perform other work required by law or the lease, the tenant may initiate the repair and deduct remedy by first sending a written notice. If after 30 days the landlord has not remedied the breach or begun repairs, the tenant may arrange for professional repairs and deduct from the rent up to $400 or half of one month’s rent, whichever is less. This remedy is unavailable to tenants who caused the condition or who are delinquent in rent payments (Del. Laws 25 § 5307).
- For withholding rent: If the landlord fails to provide hot water, heat, water, or electricity; fails to remedy a condition that deprives the tenant of a benefit of the lease; or violates the state housing Code, and this failure lasts for 48 hours, the tenant must first send written notice to the landlord. Then, they may either immediately terminate the lease, or withhold up to 2/3 per diem rent during the period that adequate housing is not supplied. If the landlord still fails to remedy the breach, the tenant can also choose to procure substitute housing and charge the landlord up to ½ of the amount of abated rent (Del. Laws 25 § 5308).
- Deposit Limit: 1 month’s rent (Del. Laws 25 § 5514(a)(2)). This limit does not apply to furnished rental units. Landlords may also charge an additional pet deposit, which cannot exceed one month’s rent (Del. Laws 25 § 5514(i)).
- Interest: Landlords in Delaware are not required to pay interest on security deposits.
- Return Within: 20 days (Del. Laws 25 § 5514(e)).
- Deposit Location: Security deposits must be kept in an escrow bank account in a federally insured banking institution. The account must be separate from other funds and not used for other business of the landlord (Del. Laws 25 § 5514(b)).
- Withholding: Landlords may withhold funds from the security deposit for damages beyond ordinary wear and tear, late fees, unpaid rent, premature termination of the lease and/or reasonable renovation or re-renting expenses, and other expenses owed to the landlord under the lease agreement. The landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages and their costs as deductions from the security deposit (Del. Laws 25 § 5514(c-f)).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). Delaware state law adds creed, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, source of income, and occupation (Del. Laws 25 § 5116).
- Delaware landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Are background checks illegal in Delaware rental housing? No – criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in this state.
- Delaware landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: 48 hours’ notice. This law does not apply when repairs are requested by the tenant (Del. Laws 25 § 5509(b)).
- Permitted Times: Delaware landlords may only enter between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Acceptable reasons for entry include inspections, repairs, decorations, alterations, improvements, services, or showings (Del. Laws 25 § 5509(a-b)).
- Emergency Entry: In case of an emergency, the landlord may enter without advanced notice or consent and at any times (Del. Laws 25 § 5509(b)).
- Rent Demand Notice: 5 days to pay or quit (Del. Laws 25 § 5502).
- Notice for Lease Violation: 7 days to cure or quit (Del. Laws 25 § 5513).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: Immediate. According to Delaware eviction laws, this notice applies when the tenant’s breach causes or threatens to cause irreparable harm to another person or their property. It also applies if the tenant is convicted of a class A misdemeanor or felony that threatens another person or property (Del. Laws 25 § 5513(b)).
Other Laws and Facts About Delaware
- The median rent rate in Delaware is $1,610.
- The median rent rate in Wilmington is $1,692.
- Landlords in Delaware must keep receipts and records for all application fees for at least two years (Del. Laws 25 § 5514(d)).