If a rental property in Delaware fails to meet legally required health and safety standards, tenants have the right to report their landlord to local public officials who may choose to follow up, inspect the property and cite the landlord for such violations.
What Are Considered Unsafe Living Conditions in Delaware?
In Delaware, unsafe living conditions exist when a rental property have safe and working:
- Common areas.
- Features required to comply with local codes.
- Anything else impacting health, safety, or habitability.
If provided by the terms of the lease, lack of any of the following features also qualifies as an unsafe condition:
- Hot water.
- Plumbing (if the landlord agrees to supply water).
What Should Tenants Do Before Reporting a Violation in Delaware?
In most cases, before reporting a violation, a tenant in Delaware must notify the landlord in writing about the issue and ask him to fix it within 15 days.
How Can Tenants Report a Violation in Delaware?
Tenants in Delaware should report violations to the local office or officers responsible for housing code enforcement. The exact process depends on municipality.
|Wilmington||Code Enforcement Division||Call (302) 576-3120|
|Dover||Code Enforcement Office||Online Form|
|Newark||Code Enforcement Division||Call (302) 366-7000|
After receiving a complaint, an inspecting officer might contact the tenant for more information. Then the officer will usually inspect the property and cite the landlord for any code violations.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Wilmington?
A tenant in Wilmington can report a health or safety violation by calling the Code Enforcement Division at (302) 576-3120. Be ready to provide contact information, a description of the issue, and possibly scheduling for followup.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Dover?
A tenant in Dover can report a health or safety violation by calling (302) 736-7010 or using the online form provided by the Code Enforcement Office. Provide the requested contact information, describe the issue, attach a picture of the issue if possible, and submit.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Newark?
A tenant in Newark can report a health or safety violation by calling the Code Enforcement Division at (302) 366-7000. Inspectors will request a location, a detailed description of the issue, and contact information for potential followup.
What Could Happen to a Landlord After a Complaint Is Made in Delaware?
After a Delaware tenant complains about unsafe conditions, an officer may inspect the property. The landlord must fix noted violations or potentially face fines or a condemned property. Violations are also evidence of conditions that may justify ending the lease or withholding rent.
- 1 Del. Code Ann. § 5305(a) (2022)
“The landlord shall, at all times during the tenancy: (1) Comply with all applicable provisions of any state or local statute, code, regulation or ordinance governing the maintenance, construction, use or appearance of the rental unit and the property of which it is a part; (2) Provide a rental unit which shall not endanger the health, welfare or safety of the tenants or occupants and which is fit for the purpose for which it is expressly rented; (3) Keep in a clean and sanitary condition all common areas of the buildings, grounds, facilities and appurtenances thereto which are maintained by the landlord; (4) Make all repairs and arrangements necessary to put and keep the rental unit and the appurtenances thereto in as good a condition as they were, or ought by law or agreement to have been, at the commencement of the tenancy; and (5) Maintain all electrical, plumbing and other facilities supplied by the landlord in good working order.”Source Link
- 2 Del. Code Ann. § 5305(b) (2022)
“If the rental agreement so specifies, the landlord shall: (1) Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, rubbish and garbage and arrange for the frequent removal of such waste; and (2) Supply or cause to be supplied, water, hot water, heat and electricity to the rental unit.”Source Link
- 3 Del. Code Ann. § 6631(a) & (c) (2022)
“Each owner of a residential occupancy… shall… install and maintain smoke detection devices as required by this chapter, with the following exception: Where… the rental, lease agreement or contract is for a period of 1 month or more… [the tenant shall maintain] an operable battery in the smoke detection device…”Source Link
- 4 Del. Code Ann. § 6602C(a) & (c) (2022)
“Each owner of a lodging establishment shall install carbon monoxide detection devices in accordance with the installation requirements in § 6603C of this title if a dwelling unit or sleeping unit has either of the following: (1) A fossil-fuel burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or other feature, fixture, or element that emits carbon monoxide as a byproduct of combustion. (2) An attached garage… The owner of a lodging establishment must install and maintain carbon monoxide detection devices required under this chapter, unless… the rental agreement, lease agreement, or contract is for a period of 1 month or more… [in such case] the tenant is responsible for maintaining an operable battery in any carbon monoxide detection devices…”Source Link
- 5 Del. Code Ann. § 5305(c) (2022)
“Evidence of compliance with the applicable building and housing codes shall be prima facie evidence that the landlord has complied with this chapter or with any other chapter of Part III of this title.” Del. Code Ann. § 5305(c) (2022) But see Brown v. Robyn Realty Co., 367 A.2d 183, 193 (Del. Super. Ct. 1976) (“Defendant contends that certain of plaintiffs’ claims are barred by failure of the violation notice of the Wilmington Department of Licenses and Inspections to list those items as violations… [citing that] ‘[e]vidence of compliance with an applicable housing code shall be prima facie evidence that the landlord has complied with this chapter . . .’. It will be noted that the section refers to prima facie evidence. By definition it is rebuttable.”)Source Link
- 6 Del. Code Ann. § 5306(a) (2022)
“If there exists any condition which deprives the tenant of a substantial part of the benefit or enjoyment of the tenant’s bargain, the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of the condition and, if the landlord does not remedy the condition within 15 days following receipt of notice, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement. If such condition renders the premises uninhabitable or poses an imminent threat to the health, safety or welfare of the tenant or any member of the family, then tenant may, after giving notice to the landlord, immediately terminate the rental agreement without proceeding in a Justice of the Peace Court.”Source Link
- 7 Del. Code Ann. § 5308(a) (2022)
“If the landlord substantially fails to provide hot water, heat, water or electricity to a tenant, or fails to remedy any condition which materially deprives a tenant of a substantial part of the benefit of the tenant’s bargain in violation of the rental agreement; or in violation of a provision of this Code; or in violation of an applicable housing code and such failure continues for 48 hours or more, after the tenant gives the landlord actual or written notice of the failure, the tenant may: (1) Upon written notice of the continuation of the problem to the landlord, immediately terminate the rental agreement; or (2) Upon written notice to the landlord, keep 2/3 per diem rent accruing during any period when hot water, heat, water, electricity or equivalent substitute housing is not supplied. The landlord may avoid this liability by a showing of impossibility of performance.”Source Link