Delaware Tenant's Right to Notice Before Landlord Entry
Does a Tenant Have to Grant a Landlord Access?
Landlord and tenants in the state of Delaware each have certain rights when it comes to landlord entry. The state’s landlord tenant law specifies how, when, and why a landlord can enter a tenant’s apartment. There are also specific penalties in place if either the landlord or the tenant does not abide by these laws. Here are the rules for landlord access in Delaware.
Does a Delaware Landlord Have to Provide Notice Before Entry?
In most situations, a landlord must first notify a tenant before the landlord is allowed to enter the tenant’s unit in Delaware. The state law does not specify exactly how this notice must be given.
In general, a tenant has notice if they have knowledge of the event. The landlord can give this knowledge to the tenant by either written or verbal notice. Written notice could be hand delivered, mailed, or emailed to the tenant. Verbal notice could be given over the phone or in person.
How Much Notice Does a Delaware Landlord Need to Provide Before Entry?
In most situations, a landlord must provide a tenant with at least 48 hours’ notice before the landlord is allowed entry into the tenant’s unit in Delaware. There are exceptions to this rule, such as emergencies, which are defined below.
Can a Landlord Enter the Tenant’s Unit at Any Time?
No. A landlord can only enter a tenant’s unit between the hours of 8 A.M. and 9 P.M. If the landlord and tenant have mutually agreed on another time of entry outside of these hours then it is allowed.
Lawful Reasons a Delaware Landlord Can Enter a Tenant’s Unit
Delaware’s landlord tenant law lists the legal reasons a landlord may be allowed to enter a tenant’s rental. These reasons include:
- To Inspect the Property Before Tenant Move-Out
- To Make Necessary Repairs, Alterations, Decorations or Improvements
- To Make Agreed Upon Repairs, Alterations, Decorations or Improvements
- To Supply Necessary Services or Utilities
- To Supply Agreed Upon Services or Utilities
- To Show the Property to Prospective Tenants
- To Show the Property to Prospective Buyers or Mortgagees
- To Read the Utility Meters
- During an Emergency
Can a Delaware Tenant Deny Landlord Entry?
There are certain situations where a tenant in Delaware must allow a landlord to enter their rental unit and there are situations where a tenant can deny the landlord entry.
Must Allow Entry:
- Landlord Has Given Proper Notice- If the landlord has given the tenant the proper 48 hours’ notice, then the tenant must allow the landlord to enter the unit.
- Legally Allowed Reason- The tenant must only allow entry if the landlord is trying to access the unit for a reason that is allowed under Delaware’s state law.
- Emergencies- In the case of an emergency, such as the smell of gas coming from a tenant’s apartment, the tenant must grant the landlord access to their unit.
Can Deny Entry:
- Landlord Did Not Give Proper Notice- If the landlord has not given the tenant the proper 48 hours’ notice, then the tenant can deny the landlord entry into their apartment.
- Landlord Harassing Tenant- If the landlord is trying to get into the tenant’s unit to harass or intimidate the tenant, then the tenant does not have to let the landlord in.
Situations Where a Landlord Does Not Have to Give Notice
In Delaware, there are certain times when a landlord does not have to give a tenant notice before being allowed access to the tenant’s rental. These times include:
- Emergencies- A landlord is allowed to access a tenant’s unit during emergency situations without having to give any prior notice.
- Tenant Requested Repairs- If the tenant has contacted the landlord regarding a repair that needs to be completed, the tenant’s contact will serve as notice and the landlord does not have to give an additional 48 hours’ notice prior to entering the unit.
- Showing the Unit to Prospective Tenants or Prospective Buyers- In Delaware, a tenant can provide a landlord with written notice that the landlord does not have to provide the tenant with 48 hours’ notice if the landlord is showing the unit to a prospective tenant or buyer.
- Tenant Extended Absence- If a tenant will be away from the unit for an extended period of time, the landlord can enter the unit for inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
Delaware Tenant’s Right to New Lock
Tenants in Delaware have the right to have the locks on their doors changed. However, if they do want new locks, the tenant has to pay for the lock and to have the locks installed. In addition, the following four conditions must be met:
- Tenant must provide landlord with notice that he or she will be having the locks changed.
- Tenant must provide landlord with a key to the new lock.
- The lock must fit into the current lock system.
- Installing the lock cannot damage the door in any way.
Landlord Remedies if Tenant Denies Entry
If the tenant does not allow the landlord access into their unit for legally allowed reasons, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief.
A court of law could rule that the tenant must allow the landlord to enter the rental. The tenant may also be liable for any damages they have caused the landlord for refusing to grant the landlord entry.
Tenant Remedies if Landlord Enters Illegally
If the landlord has made repeated attempts to enter the unit to harass the tenant, has entered without a tenant’s consent, or has entered for an illegal reason, the tenant has two options:
1. Terminate the Rental Agreement
2. Obtain Injunctive Relief From the Court for the Landlord to Stop the Behavior.
In addition, the landlord will also be liable if there is any theft or harm done when the landlord enters the rental unit. This could be due to:
- The landlord’s negligence,
- The landlord entering the unit during a tenant’s absence
- Not notifying the tenant before entering the unit.
Delaware’s Law on Landlord Entry
To view Delaware’s original code on dealing with landlord entry, please consult Delaware Code Annotated, Title 25, Chapter 55, §§ Section 5507, 5509 to 5510 and Delaware Code Annotated, Title 25, Chapter 23, § Section 5312.