Deprivation Benefits - Tenancy Code

The Landlord-Tenant Code at 25 Del. C. 5302(c) in relevant part provides "If there exists any condition which deprives the tenant of a substantial part of the benefit and enjoyment of his bargain, the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of the situation and, if the landlord does not remedy the situation within 15 days, terminate the rental agreement..." 25 Del. C. 5309 further provides: (a) If the rental unit or any other property or appurtenances necessary to the enjoyment thereof are damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty to an extent that enjoyment of the rental unit is substantially impaired, and such fire or other casualty occurs without fault on the part of the tenant, or a member of the tenant's family or another person on the premises with the tenant's consent, the tenant may: (1) Immediately quit the premises and promptly notify the landlord, in writing, of the tenant's election to quit within 1 week after vacating, in which case the rental agreement shall terminate as of the date of vacating. If the tenant fails to notify the landlord of the tenant's election to quit, the tenant shall be liable for rent accruing to the date of the landlord's actual knowledge of the tenant's vacating the rental unit or impossibility of further occupancy; or (2) If continued occupancy is lawful, vacate any part of the premises rendered unusable by fire or casualty, in which case the tenant's liability for rent shall be reduced in proportion to the diminution of the fair rental value of the rental unit. (b) If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall timely return any security deposit, pet deposit and pre-paid rent, except that to which the landlord is entitled to retain pursuant to this Code. Accounting for rent in the event of termination or apportionment shall be made as of the date of the fire or casualty. 25 Del. C. 5507 provides the landlord's remedy for a tenant abandonment to be the lessor of: (a) If the rental agreement provides for notification to the landlord by the tenant of an anticipated extended absence as defined in this Code or in the rental agreement, and the tenant fails to comply with such requirement, the tenant shall indemnify the landlord for any harm resulting from such absence. (b) the landlord may, during any extended absence of the tenant, enter the rental unit as is reasonably necessary for inspection, maintenance and safekeeping. (c) Unless otherwise agreed to in the rental agreement, the tenant shall use the rental unit only as the tenant's abode. a violation of this covenant shall constitute the breach of a rule under 5511 of this title, and shall entitle the landlord to proceed as specified elsewhere in this chapter. (d) If the tenant wrongfully quits the rental unit and unequivocally indicates by words or deeds the tenant's intention not to resume tenancy, such action by the tenant shall entitle the landlord to proceed as specified elsewhere in this chapter and the tenant shall be liable for the lesser of the following for such abandonment: (1) the entire rent due for the remainder of the term and expenses for actual damages caused by the tenant (other than normal wear and tear) which are incurred in preparing the rental unit for a new tenant; or (2) All rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to re-rent the premises at a fair rental; plus the difference between such fair rental and the rent agreed to in the prior rental agreement; plus expenses incurred to re-rent; repair damage caused by the tenant (beyond normal wear and tear); plus a reasonable commission, if incurred by the landlord for the re-renting of the premises. In any event, the landlord has a duty to mitigate damages. (e) If there is no appeal from a judgment granting summary possession under subsection (c) or (d) of this section, the landlord may immediately remove and store, at the tenant's expense, any and all items left on the premises by the tenant. Seven days after the appeal period has expired, the property shall be deemed abandoned and may be disposed of by the landlord without further notice or liability. 25 Del. C. 5514(f) provides the security deposit shall be: (a) (1) a landlord may require the payment of security deposit. (2) No landlord may require a security deposit in excess of 1 month's rent where the rental agreement is for 1 year or more. (3) No landlord may require a security deposit in excess of 1 month's rent (with the exception of federally-assisted housing regulations), for primary residential tenancies of undefined terms or month to month where the tenancy has last 1 year or more. After the expiration of 1 year, the landlord shall immediately return, as a credit to the tenant, any amount in excess of 1 month's rent. (4) the security deposit limits set forth above shall not apply to furnished rental units. (b) Each security deposit shall be placed by the landlord in an escrow bank account in a federally-insured banking institution with an office that accepts deposits within the State. Such account shall be designated as a security deposits account and shall not be used in the operation of any business by the landlord. the landlord shall disclose to the tenant the location of the security deposit account. The security deposit principal shall be held and administered for the benefit of the tenant, and the tenant's claim to such money shall be prior to that of any creditor of the landlord, including, but not limited to, a trustee in bankruptcy, even if such money is commingled. (c) the purpose of the security deposit shall be: (1) to reimburse the landlord for actual damages caused to the premises by the tenant which exceed normal wear and tear, or which cannot be corrected by painting or ordinary cleaning; and/or (2) to pay the landlord for all rental arrearage due under the rental agreement, including late charges and rental due for premature termination or abandonment of the rental agreement by the tenant; and/or (3) to reimburse the landlord for all reasonable expenses incurred in renovating and rerenting the premises caused by the premature termination of the rental agreement by the tenants, which includes termination pursuant to 5314 of this title, providing that reimbursement caused by termination pursuant to 5314 of this title shall not exceed 1 month's rent. (d) Where a tenant is required to pay a fee to determine the tenant's credit worthiness, such fee is an application fee. a landlord may charge an application fee, not to exceed the greater of either 10 percent of the monthly rent for the rental unit or $ 50, to determine a tenant's credit worthiness. the landlord shall, upon receipt of any money paid as an application fee, furnish a receipt to the tenant for the full amount paid by the tenant, and shall maintain for a period of at least 2 years, complete records of all application fees charged and amounts received for each such fee. Where the landlord unlawfully demands more than the allowable application fee, the tenant shall be entitled to damages equal to double the amount charged as an application fee by the landlord. (e) If the landlord is not entitled to all or any portion of the security deposit, the landlord shall remit the security deposit within 20 days of the expiration or termination of the rental agreement. (f) Within 20 days after the termination or expiration of any rental agreement, the landlord shall provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages to the premises and the estimated costs of repair for each and shall tender payment for the difference between the security deposit and such costs of repair of damage to the premises. Failure to do so shall constitute an acknowledgement by the landlord that no payment for damages is due. Tenant's acceptance of a payment submitted with an itemized list of damages shall constitute agreement on the damages as specified by the landlord, unless the tenant, within 10 days of the tenant's receipt of such tender of payment, objects in writing to the amount withheld by the landlord. (g) Penalties. (1) Failure to remit the security deposit or the difference between the security deposit and the amount set forth in the list of damages within 20 days from the expiration or termination of the rental agreement shall entitle the tenant to double the amount wrongfully withheld.