Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord’s key rent rules, including:
- the amount of rent (there are no limits to how much a landlord can charge in Delaware since there are no communities with rent control in the state)
- where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address)
- when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)
- how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)
- the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
- the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and
- the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.
State laws in Delaware cover several of these rent-related issues, including limits on late fees, the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction.
Delaware Rules on Late Fees
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). If you don’t pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging you a late fee. Under Delaware law, a landlord who wants to charge a late fee must maintain an office in the county where the rental unit is located, where the tenants can pay rent. If a landlord does not have a local office for this purpose, the tenant has three extra days (beyond the rent due date) to pay rent before the landlord can charge a late fee. The late fee cannot exceed 5% of rent and cannot be imposed until the rent is more than five days late.
Amount of Notice Delaware Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent
Delaware landlords must give tenants at least 60 days’ notice (in writing) to increase rent or change another term of a month-to-month rental agreement. After receive notice of the landlord’s proposed change of terms, the tenant has 15 days to terminate the tenancy. Otherwise, the changes will take effect as announced. If you have a long-term lease, however, landlords may not increase the rent until the lease ends and a new tenancy begins—unless the lease itself provides for an increase.
Rent Increases as Retaliation or Discrimination
Delaware landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race. Also, Delaware landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation against you for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to your legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.
Delaware State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. Delaware landlords must give tenants at least five days in which to pay the rent or move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can file for eviction.
Delaware Guide to Tenant Rights
For an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under Delaware landlord-tenant law, see http://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/consumers/protection/brochure/landlordcode.pdf.
Delaware State Laws on Late Fees, Termination for Nonpayment of Rent, and Other Rent-Related Issues
For state rent rules and procedures on issues such as late rent fees and raising rent, see Del. Code Ann. tit. 25 §§ 5106, 5107, 5501(b), and 5501(d).
For Delaware laws on termination for nonpayment of rent, see Del. Rev. Stat. Ann. §33-1368.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.