The Delaware Landlord Tenant Code is a set of state laws regulating rentals in the state. Enforcement of the code's provisions is administered by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Delaware Attorney General's Office. Part of the code regulates how rental agreements, also known as leases, will work, as 60 days notice usually must be provided to break a lease. The tenant is also afforded certain rights regarding terminating a rental agreement.
The code requires all rental agreements to be for a specific length of time. The agreement must be in writing if it is for more than one year. Any agreement that does not specify a length of time is legally presumed to be month to month. The code requires a tenant to give the landlord notice 60 days in advance to terminate the agreement; otherwise, the agreement will automatically renew to a month-to-month arrangement. A rejection by the tenant of a landlord requested change in the agreement terms, such as the rent amount, will satisfy the tenant's notice requirement.
Termination at Beginning
The tenant is provided a right by the code to break the agreement at the beginning of the agreement under certain conditions. During the first month, the tenant can terminate the agreement immediately upon notice to the landlord for a substantial breach of the agreement by the landlord. Such an example would be a non-working second bathroom. If the tenant stays upon the promise of the landlord to fix any such problem and it is not fixed within the first six months, the tenant can break the agreement upon 15 days notice to the landlord.
Other Early Termination
The code also provides tenants the legal right to terminate the agreement early, upon giving the landlord 30 days notice, for the following reasons: serious illness of the tenant or family member or the death of a tenant; a mandatory job transfer more than 30 miles away; entry into the armed forces; acceptance for admission to a senior citizen facility or retirement home; acceptance for residing in a subsidized rental development; the tenant becomes a victim of domestic abuse or violence.
If the rented property suffers a fire or other similar catastrophe that is not the tenant's fault, the tenant can terminate the agreement by vacating the unit and notifying the landlord. After 48 hours of a lack of essential services, such as water, sewage, heat or electric, of which the landlord has been informed about, the tenant can terminate the agreement immediately upon written notice to the landlord. The code specifies that all required notices to be in writing and to be served personally or by certified mail.