Delaware Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: November 23, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

A Delaware residential lease agreement (“rental agreement”) is a legal contract between a landlord overseeing a residential property and a tenant who wishes to rent it. A residential lease may, on or before move-in, additionally require a security deposit from the tenant as assurance against future property damage.

Delaware Lease Agreement Disclosures

These disclosures are required for some or all residential lease agreements in Delaware:

Disclosure Applicable To
Landlord’s Name/Address All Units
Landlord/Tenant Code All Units
Lead Paint All Units Built Before 1978

Landlord’s Name and Address

Applicable to all Delaware rentals.

Delaware leases must contain the name and address of the landlord or authorized agent. This enables smooth communication of any important legal notice. This contact information is most often written in the lease agreement, for maximum convenience. The landlord has an obligation to notify the tenant in the event of a change in contact information.

Landlord-Tenant Code Summary

Applicable to all Delaware rentals.

Delaware landlords must provide tenants with a summary of the state Landlord-Tenant Code at the beginning of a new rental agreement. If the landlord doesn’t provide this summary, the tenant may plead ignorance as a defense against the enforcement of certain charges or obligations.

If the property is in New Castle County, there is an additional requirement to provide a copy of the New Castle County Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities Guide, with delivery verified by the tenant’s signature.

Download: Delaware Landlord-Tenant Code Disclosure Form (PDF)

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure

Applicable to any Delaware rentals built before 1978.

Delaware residential leases for property built before 1978 must, by federal law, contain a lead-based paint disclosure. This requires landlords to do the following:

Download: Delaware Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Form (PDF)

Optional Disclosures and Addenda (Recommended)

The following lease agreement disclosures and addenda are not required by Delaware law in residential lease agreements, but assist with tenant management and help limit landlord liability.

Optional Disclosure Purpose
Asbestos Informs tenants about any asbestos hazards related to the property. Tenants can take precautions to reduce asbestos hazards by avoiding any disturbance of asbestos fibers.
Bed Bugs Informs tenants whether the property or an adjacent unit has a history of suspected bed bug infestation, and reminds the tenant of the obligation to report suspected infestation immediately.
Late/Returned Check Fees Specifies late fees or returned check fees related to the lease. Delaware caps late fees at 5% of the overdue amount. Returned check fees are capped at $40 per check.
Medical Marijuana Use Informs tenants about policy related to medical marijuana use on the rental property. Some state laws allow landlords to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only, or allow use only in designated smoking areas.
Mold Disclosure Informs tenants about actual or suspected mold contamination on the property, along with any remediation efforts, to help limit landlord liability.
Move-In Checklist Takes inventory of existing property damage, when the tenant takes possession of the rental property. This enables accurate deductions from the security deposit upon move-out.
Non-Refundable Fees Charges not agreed by the tenant in the lease may be refundable upon lease termination. For Delaware landlords to charge a non-refundable fee, it must be disclosed and agreed as such in the lease.
Shared Utilities Arrangements Discloses how charges are billed to individual tenants, when multiple rental units share a utility meter for the whole building or property. This ensures tenants receive fair charges and understand what uses contribute to their bill.
Smoking Informs tenants of designated smoking areas that do not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of other tenants.

Consequences of Not Including Mandatory Disclosures

Mandatory disclosures outline important health, safety, and property information for the benefit of both landlord and tenant. A landlord who fails to provide federally or state-mandated disclosures could face legal consequences or monetary penalties, either from a tenant lawsuit or from state officials. Many lease provisions may be unenforceable without legally required disclosures.

Failure to comply with the federal lead-based paint hazard disclosure risks fines of tens of thousands of dollars per violation.

 

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