Landlords must take tenants to court and win if they’re attempting an eviction in
Delaware. The landlord can start the eviction process if the tenant violates the terms of their lease, destroys property, or makes threats against others.
Facing an eviction is an incredibly difficult situation that can leave you feeling devastated, afraid, and embarrassed. So it’s vital for anyone renting a property in Delaware to know the laws and the process for evictions.
Legal reasons a landlord can file for eviction in Delaware
In most cases, a landlord moving to evict their tenant in Delaware—often referred to in Delaware law as a summary possession—will need to provide written notice to that tenant five to seven days before going to court to continue with the eviction process (or up to 60 days in some cases). The reasons for eviction can include:
- If the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord can issue a five-day notice to pay rent. The tenant then has five business days to pay the full amount due. Otherwise, the landlord can file a lawsuit against the tenant for eviction
- If the tenant violates the terms of their lease, the landlord can issue a seven-day notice to remedy, giving the tenant seven days to resolve the issue before a lawsuit is filed
- If the tenant violates the terms of their lease in a way that also violates local or state laws, the landlord can issue a seven-day unconditional quit notice. In this case, the landlord is advising the tenant that they will be taken to court in seven days if they haven’t moved out by then. This might include violations of codes, ordinances, or statutes at a city, county or statewide level
- The landlord can take the tenant to court if they cause irreparable harm to people or property or threaten to do so. In this case, the landlord isn’t required to provide any notice and can immediately file for eviction without warning
- The lease term has expired or there was no lease, in which case the landlord must provide 60 days’ notice to vacate before filing an eviction lawsuit.
Landlords can only evict you by using one or more of these conditions. The process needs to go through a Delaware Justice of the Peace court in all cases.
Key Takeaway Landlords cannot carry out an eviction in Delaware without giving you a five or seven-day notice (if applicable), and winning the eviction case against you.
A timeline of eviction in Delaware
Just how long it takes to get evicted will boil down to the type of eviction, the length of the notice, and how long the court process carries out. Generally, evictions in Delaware will follow this broad timeline:
How long it typically takes
What to expect
Written notice from landlord
5 to 60 days
Tenants will receive a notice to fulfill terms or vacate the premises in five, seven, or 60 days. If the eviction does not require prior notice, the lawsuit is filed immediately.
Complaint filed and tenant served
Within 5 to 30 days of the eviction hearing
Once the landlord files the eviction lawsuit, the tenant must be served within five to 30 days of the eviction hearing in person or by mail.
Within days or weeks
Delaware eviction laws don’t state how much time must pass before the court hearing. It could be days or weeks, depending on how busy or backlogged the court is. The landlord or the tenant can request a 10-day continuance to prolong the case.
Writ of posession
If the landlord wins the court hearing, the court will issue a writ of possession after a period of no less than ten days. During this time, tenants can still pay past due rent to stop the eviction process. When these ten days are up, the sheriff will notify the tenant that eviction will occur in 24 hours.
24 hours after the writ of possession is issued
24 hours later, the sheriff will return, usually with multiple officers, to forcibly remove a tenant who refuses to vacate the premises.
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Once you receive the initial notice, it could take several weeks or even several months to be evicted from your Delaware apartment. But you don’t want to use this as an excuse to dilly-dally. Instead, you should make every effort to remedy this situation as quickly as possible.
How to resist eviction in Delaware
Facing eviction in Delaware or elsewhere feels like an uphill battle, but tenants have rights and protections under the law. Here are a few ways you can fight back against eviction and possibly, hopefully, halt the process:
- Address the cause of the eviction. The most obvious method of fighting an eviction is to pay the rent owed, or resolve any lease violations. If possible, try to borrow the money needed to pay the rent. If it’s a lease violation, like parking in a spot that isn’t yours or being too loud, simply cut it out. In some cases biting your pride and just speaking heart-to-heart with your landlord can resolve a lot of issues.
- Point out a procedural mistake. Understanding your rights as a tenant and the process of eviction law grants you the ability to spot errors that can help you evade losing your rental unit. If a landlord skips steps in the eviction process, turns off utilities, changes locks, or illegally enters your property, bring this up in court. The court may dismiss the case entirely, and you can even file a lawsuit of your own.
- Argue that the landlord failed to maintain the property. If the apartment is in a state of disrepair, especially if it makes the property unlivable, you may have a ligament reason to withhold rent until the issues are addressed. Reach out to your local code enforcement office and report these issues.
- Call out discrimination. Attempts to evict you over race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or other immutable qualities are crimes. Consider hiring a lawyer or reaching out to the American Civil Liberties Union for assistance.
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Where are eviction hearings held in Delaware?
The eviction hearing will be held at the Justice of the Peace court closest to the rental property. As a tenant, you will be notified of the exact address of the court when you’re served.
Can you be evicted in Delaware right now?
Yes, you can. The CDC’s federal eviction moratorium ended in August of 2021, and landlords have resumed the process of lawfully evicting tenants. However, you can still file with the Delaware Housing Assistance Program, or DEHAP, for
financial assistance with delinquent rent.