Delaware HOA Laws

Delaware HOA Laws

Last Updated: November 29, 2023 by Corrin Swintosky

In Delaware, many planned communities are managed by a homeowners association (HOA). The laws governing HOAs in Delaware are set forth by various local and federal regulations, as well as by each individual HOA’s governing documents.

Who Regulates HOAs in Delaware?

In Delaware, HOAs must be registered as nonprofit corporations and are therefore subject to the Nonprofit Corporation Act. The Maine Unit Ownership Act  also provides more specific regulations related to HOA management.

Furthermore, governing documents regulate an HOA. Although every HOA is different, the governing documents typically include: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and other rules and regulations.

HOAs in Delaware may be subject to applicable federal laws such as:

HOAs may also be subject to certain state laws such as:

How to Find HOA Regulations in Delaware

In Delaware, individuals are able to request certain records from the HOA.   An association can withhold certain records such as executive board meeting minutes and documents subject to attorney-client privilege. An association has ten days to provide the requested documents. 

Furthermore, individuals in Delaware will be able to find HOA documents and regulations through the Delaware Secretary of State. The public will be able to search for the documents mentioned above. 

To locate relevant HOA information, enter the legal name of the subdivision or community.

HOA Powers in Delaware

In Delaware, HOAs that oversee condos have the power to:

  • Protect property value
  • Collect charges and payments for the maintenance of common areas
  • Levy reasonable fines
  • Place liens on home
  • Foreclose on a home for unpaid liens

HOA powers are outlined in its governing documents. Additionally, HOA governing documents can grant further powers such as restrictions on membership, exterior paint colors, fencing, and parking requirements.

Can an HOA Impose Fines on a Homeowner in Delaware?

In Delaware, an HOA can impose fines on a homeowner for violating its rules if stated in the governing documents. Furthermore, West Virginia law gives HOAs the right to impose fines on homeowners.

Certain HOA property types, such as condos, can impose fines for the maintenance of common elements, assessments, and violations of the HOA rules. Before a fine can be imposed, homeowners must be provided a notice and an opportunity to be heard.

Can an HOA Take a Homeowner’s House in Delaware?

There is no state statute governing whether an HOA can take a homeowner’s house in Delaware. If, when, and how an HOA would take a homeowner’s house is listed in the HOA’s governing documents.

In Delaware, an HOA can foreclose on a homeowner’s house within its community. HOAs have the power to place a lien on a property when the owner neglects to pay their dues. If a lien goes unresolved, the HOA can foreclose on the house.

There is no provision regarding an HOA’s power to evict a homeowner or tenant. However, if an HOA directly leases a residence to a tenant, they may be able to evict the tenant.

Depending on how the governing documents are drafted, the HOA may be able to evict a tenant if the lease was not properly authorized by the HOA. Otherwise, the HOA may have other powers or restrictions about rental properties in its governing documents.

Can an HOA Enter a Homeowner’s Property in Delaware?

The laws of the state of Delaware do not speak on if an HOA can enter a homeowner’s property. Clauses of when and how an HOA can enter a homeowner’s house will be listed in its governing documents.

Typically, an HOA may be able to enter a homeowner’s property in case of emergency, maintenance, or violation of any rules or regulations.

Except in the case of an emergency, reasonable notice should be provided to the homeowner before the HOA is to enter the property. A reasonable timeline can range depending on the reason for entry between three days and a couple of weeks.

Where Do Homeowners File Complaints Against Their HOA in Delaware?

The venue for filing a Complaint against an HOA in Delaware depends on the complaint.

For complaints concerning HOA fees, a homeowner can file a complaint with the Delaware State Bar Association, Delaware Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, homeowners may also file in state or federal court within one year of the violation date.

If a homeowner feels they are a victim of housing discrimination, they can file a complaint with the Delaware Division of Human and Civil Rights,, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Housing, or file a private lawsuit in Delaware state or federal court.

Otherwise, a homeowner with any other complaints can bring a claim in state court in the appropriate county.

Joining and Leaving an HOA in Delaware

Delaware state law does not address joining or leaving an HOA. These processes can be found in the HOA’s governing documents. Documents explaining the HOA and its membership rules should be presented at the closing for a new owner’s home purchase.

Typically, there are two types of HOAs that regulate joining and leaving clauses:

  • Mandatory HOAs. When a person buys a home, they automatically become a member required to abide by any HOA rules listed in the governing documents. This usually includes that a homeowner is not able to leave the HOA freely.
  • Voluntary HOAs. When a person buys a home, membership is a choice for each homeowner. If they choose to become a member, they may leave at any time by stopping their payments with the HOA.

To leave a mandatory HOA, a homeowner can sell their house or try to petition the court to have their home removed. However, there is no guarantee the petition will be granted.

How to Dissolve an HOA in Delaware

There is no state law outlining the dissolution of an HOA. The government documents will usually contain the process for dissolving the HOA. If not, then the board members of the HOA must propose dissolution to the members of the HOA.

After the proposal, appropriate notice must be provided to the members of the HOA.

If approved, the agreeing members will sign a termination agreement and carry out any other business needs, such as settling debts, disposing of assets, and filing the necessary documentation with the Delaware Division of Corporations.