A Delaware lease agreement is a legal document that defines the landlord’s and tenant’s rights and responsibilities. The landlord's primary responsibility is to allow the tenant to use his property.
The tenant’s main responsibility is to timely pay the rent to the landlord. Aside from these two main responsibilities, parties can provide any other provision to regulate their contractual relationship in more detail.
Parties usually define the method and dynamics of rent payment, the duration of the lease and possibility to extend the lease, house rules, the landlord's right to enter the property, etc.
Depending on the duration and type of your lease, you will need a different kind of lease agreement. This includes a month-to-month or fixed-term lease agreement, commercial or residential lease agreement, etc.
Delaware Lease Agreement Required Disclosures
If you are renting out a property in the state of Delaware, you must be aware of the disclosures required by law to be included in your lease agreement. Failure to do so could result in legal consequences.
Lead-based paint disclosure. If the leased property was built before 1978, federal law requires every landlord to include a lead-based paint disclosure in the lease agreement. (42 U.S. Code § 4852d)
Landlord-Tenant Code summary. Delaware state law requires every landlord to provide a summary of the Landlord-Tenant Code to the tenant upon signing the lease agreement. (§ 5118)
Contact disclosure. The landlord shall disclose the names and business addresses of any owner of the leased property, as well as his name and address. In the case of the oral lease agreement, this disclosure should be made in the form of a separate written statement. (§ 5105)
Security deposit. If the security deposit is provided, the landlord shall disclose to the tenant the location of the account where the security deposit is kept. (§ 5514(b))
Delaware Lease Agreement Optional Disclosures
To prevent liabilities and protect their rights, the landlord and tenant often choose to include these disclosures in their lease agreement:
Bed bug disclosure. The landlord shall inform the tenant of any previous bed bug infestation at the leased unit as well as the guidelines in case of a new bed bug infestation.
Mold disclosure. This disclosure should include the mold status of the property and the instructions for mold treatment. It will protect the landlord from any mold damage claims in the future.
Non-refundable fee disclosure. The landlord should disclose if any of the fees given by the tenant are non-refundable. If not so disclosed, the landlord must refund any such fee to the tenant after the tenancy is over.
Consequences of Non-Disclosure
The landlord can pay up to $19,507 in penalties if they fail to disclose the lead-based hazard to the tenant. (24 CFR § 30.65)
If the landlord fails to provide a summary of the Landlord-Tenant Code to the tenant upon signing the lease agreement, the tenant may plead ignorance of the law as a defense.
The tenant can also start civil proceedings for the damages caused to him by the health and safety hazards that were not properly disclosed by the landlord.
Delaware Lease Agreement Security Deposits
Security Deposit Maximum
Fixed-term tenancy: no more than one month’s rent where the term is one year or longer.
Month-to-month tenancy: there is no limit until one year after the month-to-month tenancy has started. After one year, the limit is one month’s rent. (§ 5514)
Apart from the general security deposit, the landlord may require a separate pet deposit, which is also capped at the amount of one month’s rent. This does not include service animals for disabled people.
Security Deposit Return
Twenty days after the termination or expiration of the lease agreement. (§ 5514(f))
Within that period, the tenant should send the list of repairs that must be done and their estimated cost, as well as any remaining amount after the deductions.
If the landlord wrongfully keeps any of the security deposit money, the tenant can ask for double the amount as compensation.
The tenant then has 10 days to send a written objection if they disagree with the deductions made.
When is Rent Due in Delaware? (Grace Period)
The rent is due on a day specified in the lease agreement.
The tenant will have a grace period of 5 days after the due date, before which the landlord can’t charge any late fees. (Title 25 § 5501(d))
If the landlord doesn’t have an office in the same state where the leased property is located, the grace period is then extended for an additional 3 days.
Delaware Rent Late Fees
The late fees can’t be higher than 5% of the monthly rent amount. Delaware state law sees late fees as additional rent.
The tenant should be properly informed in the lease agreement about any late fees that would be implemented in case of late rent payment. (Title 25 § 5501(d))
Delaware NSF Checks
If the tenant uses a bad check to pay for the rent, the landlord is entitled to the amount of the check increased by a $40 fee.
Delaware Landlord’s Right to Enter
The tenant shall allow the landlord to enter the rental unit in the following cases:
Reasons for Entry
Necessary repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements
Reading the meter for measuring utility consumption
In each of these cases, the landlord shall give at least a 48-hour notice to the tenant, except in the case of repairs requested by the tenant. (Title 25 § 5509)
The landlord can access the property only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., except in cases of emergency.
The tenant can change the lock at the leased unit if:
They notify the landlord in writing and give them a spare key.
The new lock fits into the existing system.
The lock installation doesn’t damage the door.
Delaware Lease Agreement FAQ
Yes, the lease agreement in Delaware is legally binding.
With the written lease agreement that is signed by both parties, there is no doubt. But if one of the parties doesn’t sign the lease agreement, there are two ways in which it can still be binding:
1. If the tenant doesn’t sign the lease agreement but moves into the leased unit and pays the rent, the lease agreement is binding toward him.
2. If the landlord fails to sign the lease agreement but accepts the rent payment, the lease agreement is binding toward him.
Be aware that in both of these scenarios, the lease agreement will be binding for only one year.
Most of the lease agreements for a property lease in Delaware include the following clauses:
Names, addresses, and ID numbers of the parties
Details about the leased unit
Term of the lease
Rent amount, payment method, and due date
Disclosure of any non-refundable or late fees applicable
Safety and health hazard disclosures
Date and place of the lease agreement signature
You can download the template for the lease agreement used in Delaware from our website.
In this way, you will be sure that your lease agreement is in accordance with all the mandatory federal and state rules and regulations.
Finally, the landlord gives the keys to the tenant and enables them to use the leased unit in any other way.
Make sure all the parties have at least one copy of the lease agreement.
Sign all the copies by all the parties to the lease agreement.
Notarize the lease agreement if needed.
Do a proper inspection of the leased unit before the tenant moves in.
Make sure both the landlord and the tenant sign the move-in checklist and all the additional addendums to the lease agreement.
The tenant then pays the deposit and the rent.