As a first-time renter in Delaware, you may be a little wary about what you’re signing when it comes to your lease — a legal agreement that lays out the terms in which a tenant rents property owned by a landlord.
For help in understanding the details of leases, here’s what tenants need to know about rental rights and duties in Delaware, according to state code.
Ending the lease
If a Delaware tenant fails to pay rent when it is due, a landlord may issue a five-day notice to pay. If tenants do not pay, landlords can file for eviction.
The tenant may be able to stop the eviction by paying rent in full after the landlord has initiated the process, according to state code.
If a renter voluntarily wants to terminate their lease, state code says that written notice of at least 60 days from the end of the lease date is required.
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Getting your security deposit back
After the expiration of a rental agreement, a Delaware renter may be entitled to twice the amount of the security deposit if the landlord doesn't return the funds.
State code states that the full security deposit much be returned within 20 days from the "forfeiture." Otherwise, landlords may be on the hook for even more.
Entering without permission
Landlords must provide at least 48 hours of advanced notice to enter a rental unit − unless repairs were requested by the tenant.
But that goes out the window if there's an emergency, in which case landlords are allowed to enter at any time.
A landlord or community owner must give written notice if your rent is going to increase. State code says they must do this at least 90 days before the rent increase will be enforced, but not more than 120 days.
Landlords may not increase a tenant’s rent more than once during any 12-month period, according to state code.
Changing the locks
Delaware does not set guidelines on who can change the locks on rental units.
State code states that “a tenant shall have the right to install a new lock at the tenant’s cost, on the condition that: the tenant notifies the landlord in writing and supplies the landlord with a key to the lock; the new lock fits into the system already in place; and the lock installation does not cause damage to the door.”
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Renting in Delaware: What you need to know about your rights