Landlord Station wants you to have a great landlord-tenant business relationship, something we strongly believe is founded in a good understanding of the DE landlord tenant code. Even the most general comprehension of how Delaware landlord tenant law applies to you and your tenant can help you prevent conflict, or allow you to properly defend yourself in legal proceedings. In fact, according to Delaware law, you are even obligated as landlord to provide a summary of DE landlord tenant code to each new tenant at the beginning of their lease. If you fail to do so, that tenant may plead ignorance of the law as a defense.
The following summary by LandlordStation.com is meant to act as a general summary for you to use as a landlord to help educate you, and even inspire you to take your exploration even deeper. When it comes to landlord tenant laws, Delaware only allows licensed attorneys to give specific legal advice. As such, the following should not be misconstrued as legal advice. If you are seeking specific legal advice, we encourage you to pursue the counsel of an experienced Delaware lawyer.
Delaware landlord tenant law can be found in the Landlord-Tenant Code under Title 25 of the Delaware Code. These statutes define the landlord-tenant relationship, what constitutes a lease agreement, the rights and obligations of both parties, and the legal proceedings that may be involved. To be an effective landlord, you must first understand lease agreements in this state and how they work. The following is important information about Delaware lease agreements:
• A rental agreement is any agreement which establishes or modifies the terms, conditions, rules, regulations, or any other provisions concerning the use and occupancy of a rental unit
• Agreements can be written or oral, defined or undefined
• Any lease agreement that is for a period longer than one year must be written
• Undefined agreements are considered to be month-to-month
• When the lease is not month-to-month, at least 60 days of notice must be given if either party intends to terminate the agreement upon expiration
• To terminate a month-to-month lease, 60 days of notice is still required by either party, but that 60 days will begin on the first day of the month following the actual notice rather than immediately
• If a lease is for a year or longer and neither party gives notice to terminate or renew the agreement, the lease term shall become a month-to-month agreement
• If the landlord does not sign the written lease agreement, but still accepts rent payment without reservation, the lease will be considered binding to the landlord
• If the tenant does not sign the written agreement, but still accepts possession of the premises and pays rent, the lease will be considered binding to the tenant.
• An unsigned written agreement for terms longer than a year put into effect by rent payment, rent acceptance, and premises acceptance will be reduced to a one-year term
Remember, thought Delaware law allows for multiple types of leases, a defined, written agreement is the simplest to prove and uphold in court. It is also very important to note that no lease agreement may supersede any federal, state, county, or municipal law. This includes certain rights and responsibilities assigned to both landlord and tenant in Delaware.
Under DE landlord tenant laws, for instance, obligations of the tenant include paying rent on time, disposing of all garbage and waste, keeping the part of the premises that he or she is renting clean and habitable, preventing willful or negligent destruction to or removal of any part of the property, notifying the landlord in writing of any defective conditions as soon as possible, notifying the landlord of any anticipated extended absence, following the landlord's reasonable rules for the property, and permitting the landlord reasonable access to the rental unit and premises. A tenant must also not leave the rental agreement early without penalty except for in the following circumstances:
• If the tenant or a family member has a serious illness
• If the tenant's employer requires that he or she move more than 30 miles away
• If the tenant is accepted into government subsidized housing, nonprofit subsidized housing, a group home, a retirement home, or a senior-citizen facility
• If the tenant enters active duty for any branch of the U.S. Military
• If the tenant becomes a victim and complainant in a domestic abuse, sexual offense, or stalking case
A landlord also has certain obligations under DE landlord tenant code which a lease may not circumvent. These responsibilities are primarily concerned with the habitability of the unit. In Delaware, a landlord must comply with all applicable state or local housing codes, provide a rental unit that is healthy and safe, ensure the rental unit is fit for the purpose for which it is leased, keep common areas clean and sanitary, and provide and maintain all services agreed upon in the lease.
Usually it is the landlord's duty to provide maintenance for the rental premises, but Delaware does allow a written agreement between landlord and tenant where the tenant will perform certain repairs and updates to the units in exchange for a reduction in rent or other adequate consideration. As landlord, you are bound by Delaware law, your lease agreement, and any separate agreement until the lease is legally terminated. The legal process of speeding up this termination is called eviction. A Delaware landlord may legally file for eviction when:
• The tenant remains on the rental premises after the lease ends without your permission
• The tenant doesn't pay rent after a written notice of five days
• The tenant unlawfully makes a deduction from rent
• The tenant violates DE landlord tenant code or lease terms
• The tenant receives a conviction during tenancy for a Class A felony that threatens harm to person or property
It is extremely important to remember that eviction is a strict legal process and not an undertaking you should attempt on your own by unlawfully forcing the tenant off the property. In fact, most remedies provided for each party under DE landlord tenant laws have strict legal guidelines and should be approached with care.
This great level of care needed for a successful rental relationship between landlord and tenant is also why it is so important to stay on top of Delaware landlord-tenant law. We at LandlordStation.com hope this general summary has been a helpful starting block on your road to further understanding of the law. Remember, this summary is just general information – not advice – and may not necessarily be helpful to your specific case. When you need legal advice regarding your specific situation, always refer to an experienced, licensed Delaware attorney.
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