A Delaware eviction notice is an important first step in the legal eviction process. In fact, a landlord or property management company may not file a Complaint with the court against the tenant for eviction until they are first legally served with this notice. The purpose of the notice is to inform the tenant that they have violated the lease in some way. These notices are commonly referred to as a notice to quit. All Delaware eviction notices must comply with Title 25, Chapter 55, Tenant Obligations and Landlord Remedies.
To create a Delaware eviction notice, first you need to gather some basic information. In addition to knowing which legal reason you have to evict the tenant, you’ll need:
It’s also helpful to serve the eviction notice with a copy (not the original) of the signed lease agreement.
5-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent
A 5-day notice to quit for non-payment of rent is a Delaware eviction notice used when a tenant doesn’t pay their rent on-time. It gives the tenant 5 days from the date the notice is issued to pay their rent. If the landlord has late fees included in the lease agreement, the late fee amount should be mentioned (as well as the amount of rent that is past due). Landlords may not begin charging late fees until the tenant is at least five days past due on their rent under Title 25 § 5501(d).
7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
A 7-day notice to quit for non-compliance is used for all other lease violations. It gives the tenant 7 days to correct the issue or vacate the property. This Delaware eviction notice must specifically explain the violation that occurred and inform the tenant that if the violation isn’t corrected, they will have to vacate the premises. The landlord is allowed to offer their help to correct the breach and they may also bill the tenant for the cost of the correction. The cost can be added as part of the rent to make it easier for the tenant to pay or they may bill the entire amount and request immediate payment. All 7-day notices of this nature must comply with Title 25 § 5513.
60-Day Notice to Quit for a Month-to-Month Tenancy
A 60-day notice to quit is used to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. It’s not technically an eviction notice. It does give written notice to the tenant that their month-to-month tenancy will not be renewed. Under Delaware law, landlords must give tenants at least 60 days’ notice.
Let’s talk about some things you should know about Delaware eviction notices. The first thing to keep in mind is that a landlord must have the tenant legally served. This is important because an eviction notice must be served if the landlord plans to file a lawsuit against the tenant.
Not all evictions are legal. Landlords may not evict tenants because the tenant reported the landlord or the property because of code violations or for discriminatory reasons. Landlords may not rely on “self-help” eviction methods. This means that they cannot turn off the utilities, change the locks, or remove the tenant’s property from the home until they have a court order from the court.
If a landlord does not follow Delaware landlord-tenant law for creation and service of their eviction notices, they can be subject to a lawsuit from the tenant. They can also be sued by the tenant if the landlord engages in illegal eviction practices as discussed in the previous paragraph.
If you’re served with a Delaware eviction notice, read it carefully. Determine why you’re being evicted. It should list how many days you have to correct the problem (5 days for non-payment of rent and 7 days for other lease violations). If it is property damage and it was accidental, talk to your landlord. They may pay to have it fixed and allow you to pay them back and remain on the property.
Call your landlord or the property management company if you have questions about the notice. Of course, not all eviction notices are legal. If you believe the eviction is illegal in some way, contact a landlord-tenant lawyer. Some law schools provide legal clinics that may be able to provide you with free or low-cost legal representation if you meet their criteria. You may also want to look for legal aid offices in your area if you cannot afford a lawyer. Some lawyers do provide free initial consultations. If you do have a case against the landlord for an illegal eviction, a landlord may be willing to take the case on a contingency fee.
Delaware landlords must comply with landlord-tenant laws. This includes writing and serving an eviction notice. If a landlord doesn’t or if they elect to resort to the “self-help” measures described under Legal Considerations, they could open themselves up to a lawsuit. If you’re a landlord and you have a question about Delaware eviction notices, contact an experienced Delaware landlord-tenant lawyer.