Delaware eviction notices are forms delivered to a tenant to advise them that they are in violation of their lease agreement and they must remedy the breach or vacate the premises. These notices are used before an eviction suit (or summary for possession) is filed against the tenant. Each notice is used for a different breach of contract and will give the tenant a specific number of days to cure the violation. In some cases, curing the violation is not a possibility. The lease termination letter does not pertain to breaches of contract but is used simply to notify a tenant (or for the tenant to notify the landlord) that they wish to terminate the lease agreement.
Immediate Notice to Quit for Irreparable Harm – Terminates a lease agreement immediately upon service to a tenant for causing damage to a person or property.
5-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment – Informs a tenant that they have failed to pay rent on time and they must pay within five (5) days or their lease will be terminated.
7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance – A notice served upon a tenant who has committed a breach of contract and must cure the violation or risk an eviction suit.
60-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Lease – Can be used by a landlord or tenant to notify the other that they intend on terminating a lease agreement by providing sixty (60) days’ notice.
- Grace Period (§ 5501(d)): Five (5) Days
- Non-Payment of Rent (§ 5502): Five (5) Days
- Lease Non-Compliance (§ 5513(a)): Seven (7) Days
- Periodic Tenancy Termination (§ 5106(d)): Sixty (60) Days
- Illegal Activity (§ 5513(b)): Immediate
- Irreparable Harm (§ 5513(b)): Immediate
The following steps must be executed carefully by the landlord to ensure a successful eviction suit, also known in Delaware as a “summary for possession.”
Step 1 – Serve Notice to Quit
A landlord must have a valid reason for evicting a tenant, and the first step of an eviction process is serving a notice to quit informing the tenant of the landlord’s intent to evict them. There are four (4) notices that a landlord can use to inform a tenant that they are in violation of their rental agreement.
- Immediate Notice to Quit for Irreparable Harm – Tenant has caused irreparable harm to a person or property and they must vacate the premises immediately upon receiving this notice.
- 5-Day Notice to Quit (Non-Payment) – Tenant has failed to pay rent on the due date and has five (5) days to pay or vacate the premises.
- 7-Day Notice to Quit (Non-Compliance) – Tenant has failed to comply with a provision of their lease agreement and has seven (7) days to fix the issue or vacate the premises.
- 60-Day Notice to Quit (Lease Termination) – Landlord intends to terminate the rental agreement (without cause) between the parties and the tenant has sixty (60) days to vacate the premises.
If the tenant cures the violation (if possible), the rental agreement can continue. Failure to remedy the breach or vacate the premises means the landlord can commence an eviction suit.
Step 2 – File Summary of Possession Action
A summary of possession action (eviction suit) is handled by the Justice of the Peace Court. The landlord can download the Complaint Form (Civil Form No. 01), fill it out, and file it with the court clerk. A filing fee of $45 will be charged to the landlord for this action. The landlord should attach a copy of the notice to quit that was delivered to the tenant for the committed violation. The court will serve the complaint and a summons form to the tenant (cost for service is included in filing fee) and will schedule a trial date.
If the tenant is causing significant damage to the property (or a person), the landlord may file a Request for Forthwith Summons (Form CF01FS) to set the trial for an earlier date.
Step 3 – Answer Form (If Applicable)
In situations where a landlord only wants to be compensated for past due rent payments, and not regain possession of the property, an Answer to the Complaint (Civil Form No. 7) will be delivered to the tenant in addition to the forms mentioned above. The tenant has fifteen (15) days from the date they received the papers to file their Answer or a default judgment may be entered.
Step 4 – Counterclaim (If Applicable)
The tenant may also file a claim against the landlord (counterclaim) if they feel the landlord failed to uphold their obligations and is wrongfully filing a summary of possession (or debt) action against them. The tenant must file a Counterclaim (Civil Form No. 01CC) at least five (5) days before the trial date.
Step 5 – Trial
To prepare for court, the landlord should bring copies of the rental agreement, the notice to quit, and a list of any important or pertinent dates for easy reference in court. The judge will hear testimony from both parties and will review any evidence shared by the same.
Step 6 – Judgment
A judgment in favor of the landlord will mean possession of the property must be forfeited by the tenant and/or money owed must be paid (plus court costs). If the tenant does not vacate the premises, the landlord can file (for a fee of $35 – $40) a Request for Writ of Possession (Civil Form No. 20B). If approved, the court will issue the Writ of Possession (not until ten (10) days have passed since judgment) that will order the tenant to remove themselves from the property within twenty-four (24) hours. After the twenty-four hour period, a constable may remove the tenant if they haven’t vacated the premises on their own accord.
- Complaint Form (Civil Form No. 01)
- Signing: Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s Attorney
- Request for Forthwith Summons (Form CF01FS)
- Signing: Plaintiff and Notary Public
- Answer to the Complaint (Civil Form No. 7)
- Signing: Defendant and Defendant’s Attorney (If Applicable)
- Counterclaim (Civil Form No. 01CC)
- Signing: Defendant (becomes Plaintiff during counterclaim)
- Request for Writ of Possession (Civil Form No. 20B)
- Signing: Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s Attorney