If you’re a landlord seeking to evict a tenant for violating a lease term, use a Delaware (DE) Eviction Notice to begin the process.
- What is an Eviction Notice?
- Delaware Eviction Notices by Type
- Eviction Laws & Requirements
- What is the Eviction Process in Delaware?
- Related Delaware Court Forms
- Eviction Information for Delaware Landlords and Tenants
- How to Write an Eviction Notice (Notice to Pay Rent or Quit)
- Delaware Eviction Notice Sample
What is an Eviction Notice?
Eviction notices are legally binding documents that must follow specific laws to protect the tenant and the landlord while seeking to remove a tenant from a rental unit.
To successfully evict a tenant, the landlord must win an eviction lawsuit, also known as an action for summary possession. This process takes place in court, and there may be filing fees, so keep this in mind when moving forward with an eviction.
A landlord may seek to terminate a rental agreement and evict a tenant for many reasons. Most commonly, it’s due to tenants breaching the Lease by failing to pay rent, breaking the law, or damaging the dwelling unit.
If a landlord doesn’t have cause to evict the tenant before the end of the lease, Delaware law states that the landlord needs to wait until after the lease expires.
In Delaware, eviction lawsuits are governed by Title 25, Chapter 57 (Summary Possession in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Code) of the Delaware Code.
Note that you may not file an eviction for the following types of lease agreements: lease agreements of 120 days or less in specific areas of Sussex County; hotel, fraternal, and institutional lodgings; lease agreements where the tenants installed or made improvements and the tenant, therefore, holds ownership or title; and rental agreements within the seasonal property category.
Additionally, Delaware landlords do not have to give written notice to start an eviction action against tenants involved in illegal activities that put the landlord, other tenants, and property at risks, such as when the tenant is convicted of a class A misdemeanor or felony.
Delaware Eviction Notices by Type
Download a free eviction notice customized for Delaware state law below in MS Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF format.
60-Day Lease Termination: Use this notice to let a tenant know that you’re ending a month-to-month lease and that they must prepare to leave your property. In Delaware, landlords must give tenants a 60 days notice period to move out if they’re on a month-to-month rental agreement.
7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance: Use a 7-day notice to quit to begin evicting a tenant if they’ve broken any lease agreement terms other than failure to pay rent. In Delaware, landlords must give tenants a 7-day notice before eviction can proceed in court. During that time, tenants may have the option to fix (or “cure”) the problem (violation of one or more lease terms).
If the breach is illegal, tenants may be unable to remedy it. If the tenant is causing or threatening harm to a person or the property, immediate termination is an option. Remember that under Delaware law, landlords can give tenants a seven-day unconditional quit notice (without the opportunity for corrective action) if the tenant violates a city, county, or state code, statute, or ordinance.
5-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: Use a 5-day notice to pay rent or quit to begin evicting tenants if they have not or are late paying rent. In Delaware, landlords must give tenants five (5) days to pay rent before the eviction process can proceed in court. The notice may be delivered as soon as the rent is late. If the tenant pays within five (5) days, the landlord may not proceed with termination (your rental agreement should reflect Delaware law and contain language that describes this notice period).
If you wish to send a letter simply reminding your tenant that rent is late (without the threat of eviction), use a late rent notice.
Eviction Laws & Requirements
- Eviction Lawsuits: Title 25, Chapter 57 (Summary Possession in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Code) of the Delaware Code
- Grace Period for Rental Payment: 5 days before a late fee can be assessed. The late fee must be specified in the lease and cannot exceed 5% of the rent. (25 Delaware Code § 5501)
- Late or Nonpayment of Rent Notice: 5 days (25 Delaware Code § 5502)
- Notice of Non-Compliance: 7 days (25 Delaware Code § 5513)
- Lease Termination (Month-to-Month): 60 days (25 Delaware Code § 5106)
- Manufactured Homes Only – Late or Nonpayment of Rent Notice: 7 days (25 Delaware § Code 7016)
What is the Eviction Process in Delaware?
Take the following steps to proceed with eviction in Delaware.
Step 1: Provide Written Notice
The landlord must provide the tenant with written notice of their intent to terminate the lease via first class mail, registered mail, certified mail, personal service (to the tenant or family member), or messenger (delivered to the tenant or family member). The notice must include the reason for eviction and the time period to fix the violation and be written according to Delaware state law.
Step 2: File a Summary Possession Action
After serving the notice, you must file a complaint form with the Justice of the Peace Court in the property’s jurisdiction. The complaint form is the reason the eviction is taking place. This is the court process to evict a tenant legally. Remember that a tenant can request a jury trial to hear the eviction case. The landlord must win this lawsuit to proceed with eviction and regain the property (take note of the filing fees charged by the court).
Step 3: Take Possession of the Rental Property
If the landlord wins the eviction lawsuit, the Justice of the Peace Court will give the tenant a date to vacate the property. If the tenant doesn’t leave the property by the date noted on the court order, they’ll be forcibly removed by law enforcement pursuant to a writ of possession. Landlords themselves cannot force tenants to vacate.
Step 4: Disposal of Personal Property
During evictions, tenants may leave behind personal possessions. The landlord is legally required to store the tenant’s personal possessions for seven (7) days to allow the tenant time to retrieve their belongings. After that time frame, the tenant’s possessions will be considered abandoned.
Related Delaware Court Forms
View the following summary possession action informational packet to better understand the Delaware eviction process. Additionally, the official Delaware Courts website provides access to many important landlord/tenant court forms, including the following eviction-related forms:
- Complaint: The landlord submits this form to the court to officially begin eviction.
- Summons: This form is filed alongside the complaint. It informs the tenant of the date of the official court hearing.
- Writ of Possession: Filed after a court judgment to forcibly remove the tenant if the tenant does not vacate the property on their own (including a default judgment for the landlord if the tenant fails to appear in court). Instructs the sheriff or law enforcement that they can forcibly remove the tenant from the property 24 hours after the tenant receives the writ
You may also want to contact a lawyer to walk you through the eviction forms and processes, but remember, you will likely encounter attorney fees if you go this route.
Eviction Information for Delaware Landlords and Tenants
Use the following information for landlords and tenants to guide you during the eviction.
There are excellent self-help resources for renters who want to learn about their legal rights when facing eviction in Delaware at the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
How to Write an Eviction Notice (Notice to Pay Rent or Quit)
Follow the steps below to write an eviction notice in Delaware.
Step 1 – Fill Out the Date of Notice
Write the date of the eviction notice.
Step 2 – Enter Tenant Information and Property Address
Provide the name of all tenants listed on the original lease or rental agreement. Enter the full street address for the rental property.
Step 3 – Enter Lease/Rental Agreement Information
Provide the name (or title) and the original lease or rental agreement date.
Step 4 – Enter Late Rent Details
Provide the beginning and end dates for the time period in which the rent is past due. Write the amount of the past due rent, the number of late fees (if any), and the total amount the tenant owes to the landlord.
Step 5 – Sign Notice and Enter Landlord Information
The landlord will sign and date the eviction notice. Provide the landlord’s current contact information so the tenant can contact the landlord if necessary.
Step 6 – Provide Proof of Service
Proof of service is an affidavit that shows that the eviction notice was served to the tenant.
Enter the date of delivery. This is important because it provides evidence of the date the notice is delivered to the tenant, which starts the number of days the tenant has to pay the past due rent (5 days) or vacate the property.
The person delivering the eviction notice, the server, should complete the delivery method, the fields for the person receiving the notice, and the address of the location where the notice was delivered. The server signs, prints their full name, and dates the proof of service.
Delaware Eviction Notice Sample
Below is an example of what a Delaware eviction notice looks like.
Delaware Eviction Notice Sampledelaware-eviction-notice-5-day-pay-rent-or-quit