CHAPTER 286

FORMERLY SENATE BILL NO. 437

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 2

AND HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 51, TITLE 25, DELAWARE CODE, BY GROUPING SECTIONS 5101 THROUGH 5112 UNDER THE HEADING "SUBCHAPTER I" AND BY CREATING A NEW SUBCHAPTER II RELATING TO LEASES FOR MOBILE HOMES AND MOBILE HOME LOTS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (two-thirds of all the Members elected to each House concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend Chapter 51, Title 25, Delaware Code, by grouping Sections 5101 through 5112 under the new heading "Subchapter I. General Landlord and Tenant Laws".

Section 2. Amend Chapter 51, Title 25, Delaware Code, by adding a new Subchapter II which shall read as follows:

SUBCHAPTER II. LEASE OF MOBILE HOMES OR MOBILE HOME LOTS.

§ 5115. Applicability

This Subchapter shall regulate and determine legal rights, remedies, and obligations of the parties to any rental agreement or lease of a mobile home or mobile home lot in a mobile home or trailer park containing two or more mobile homes within this State, wherever executed, not covered by any county code or other State law. Any agreement, whether written or oral, shall be unenforceable insofar as the agreement or any provision thereof conflicts with any provision of this Act and is not expressly authorized herein.

§ 5116. Jurisdiction

Any person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this State, who owns, holds an ownership or beneficial interest in, uses,

manages, or possesses real estate situated in this State, submits himself or his personal representative to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State as to any action proceeding for the enforcement of an obligation arising under this Code.

§ 5117. Definitions

Unless otherwise expressly stated, where terms are not defined under the provisions of this Subchapter, they shall have ascribed to them their ordinarily accepted meanings or such as the context may herein imply.

For purposes of this Subchapter, the following shall mean:

(a) "Landlord". The owner of the rental unit or the property of which it is a part and, in addition, means any person authorized to exercise any aspect of the management of the premises, including any person who, directly or indirectly, receives rents, and who has no obligation to deliver the whole of such receipts to another person.

() "Mobile Home". A transportable, single-family dwelling unit used as and suitable for year round occupancy and containing the same type of water supply, waste disposal, and electrical conveniences as immobile housing.

(a) "Mobile Home Park or Trailer Park". Any area or tract of land where two or more mobile homes or mobile home lots are rented or leased or held out for rent or lease to accommodate mobile homes or trailers used for human habitation.

(b) "Owner". One or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested all or part of the legal title to property, part or all of the beneficial ownership, and a right to present use and enjoyment of the property.

(c) "Person". Any legal entity, including, but not limited to, the following: an individual, firm, partnership, association, trust, joint stock company, corporation, or successor of any of the foregoing.

(d) "Premises". A lot, plot, or parcel of land including the buildings, structures, and/or mobile homes thereon.

(g) "Recreational Camper or Travel Trailer". A motor vehicle or structure which can be towed by a motor vehicle used either for temporary shelter, recreational, or camping purposes, but not used as a permanent dwelling unit.

(h) "Rent". Any money or other consideration given for the right of use, possession, and occupation of property.

() "Rubbish and Garbage". Combustible and non-combustible waste materials; the animal and vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food; useless and unstored paper, rags, cartons, boxes, wood, rubber, leather, cans, metals, glass, crockery, and other similar material.

(a) "Transient". A person who resides in a mobile home unit or rents a mobile home lot for less than one hundred twenty days, or whose period of stay is so indefinite that he chooses not to sign a long-term lease.

(b) "Tenant". Any person who occupies a mobile home rental unit for dwelling purposes or a lot on which he parks a mobile home for an agreed upon consideration.

§ 5118. Requisites for rental or offer of mobile home or lot for rental

No person shall offer for occupancy for rent any mobile home which does not conform to the requirements of sanitation, housing, building, and health codes of the State or of the county in which the mobile home is located or any such codes or regulations which shall be promulgated hereafter.

No person shall offer for rent any lot in a mobile home park which does not conform to subdivision regulations of the county in which the mobile home park is located.

Violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $100 or 30 days in jail.

§ 5119. Exemptions

No trailer park operated by the State or the federal government, on parkland owned by either, and no trailer park

solely operated for the use of recreational campers or travel trailers shall be subject to the provisions of this Subchapter.

Landlords renting to transients shall be exempted from requirements to offer a written lease to such tenants.

§ 5120. Obligation of landlord to tender written rental agreement

No person may offer a mobile home or lot in a mobile home park for rent for a period of more than one hundred and twenty days without showing to the prospective lessee a copy of the rental agreement which must be executed before the lessee can occupy the leased premises. No person may move a mobile home into a mobile home park or personal belongings into a mobile home in this State until a written rental agreement has been signed by the lessee and the lessor, with the exception of transients.

§ 5121. Effect on existing rental agreements

Any verbal agreements now existing between the owner of any mobile home park in the State and a tenant shall be operable only if such verbal agreements are made to conform to the requirements of this Subchapter within one month after this date this Act is signed by the Governor. In no case shall the owner of a mobile home park fail to notify his tenants in writing later than one month after the date this Act is signed by the Governor that a written lease will be available upon request by the tenant and that such a lease is being offered in compliance with and will conform to the requirements of this Act.

Any written rental agreements or leases between the owner of a mobile home park and a tenant now in effect shall be made to conform to the provisions of this Subchapter within three months after the date this Act is signed by the Governor. A violation of this Section by the owner of a mobile home park shall be punishable by a fine of not more than fifty dollars or 10 days in jail.

§5122. Effect of unsigned rental agreement

( 1 ) If the landlord or owner of a mobile home park does not sign a written rental agreement which has been signed and tendered to him by a tenant, acceptance of rent without

reservation by the landlord shall give to the rental agreement the same effect as if it had been signed by the landlord.

(2) If the tenant does not sign a written rental agreement which has been signed and tendered to him by the landlord, continuation of possession and payment of rent without reservation shall give to the rental agreement the same effect as if it had been signed by the tenant. No person serving in the armed forces of the United States shall be required under any conditions to sign or become obligated under any lease which requires that he provide more than two weeks advance notice to the landlord of his intention to terminate the lease in the event that his military orders for reassignment do not provide the tenant with more than two weeks notice of transfer.

(3) Where the rental agreement which is given effect by the operation of this section provides by its terms for a term longer than one year, it shall operate to create only a one-year term.

§ 5123. Provisions of mobile home park rental agreements

Any rental agreement or lease hereafter executed or currently existing between a landlord and tenant in a mobile home park in this State shall contain, or shall be made to contain, the following provisions:

(1) The landlord shall agree at all times during the tenancy

to:

(a) maintain the premises and re-grade them when necessary to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, and to prevent the detrimental effects of moving water;

(b) maintain the premises in such a manner to protect the health and safety of the occupants or tenants including maintaining the ground at a level such that the mobile home will not tilt from its original position;

(c) keep each lot area in the park marked in such a way that each tenant will be certain of his area of responsibility;

(d) keep all exterior property areas not in the possession of a tenant, but part of the mobile home park property, free of

species of weeds or plant growth which are noxious or detrimental to the health of the tenants;

(e) be responsible for the extermination of insects, rodents, vermin, or other pests dangerous to the health of the tenants whenever infestation exists in the exterior areas of the park or in the interior of a mobile home if such infestation is not the fault of the tenant and particularly if such infestation existed prior to the occupancy of the tenant claiming relief;

() maintain, in a rented mobile home, a dwelling which is structurally sound and impervious to the adverse effects of weather, other than a hurricane or tornado wind of fifty (50) miles per hour or more, cyclone, flood, earthquake, severe hailstorm, lightning, or any other such condition which might reasonably be considered beyond the control of the landlord.

(a) maintain all electrical, plumbing, gas, or other utilities provided by him in good working condition with the exception of emergencies after which repairs must be completed within 72 hours or due cause must be shown why such repairs are not immediately possible;

(b) maintain all water and sewage lines and connections in good working order, and in the event of an emergency, make arrangements for the provision of such services on a temporary basis;

(c) respect the privacy of the tenants and if only the lot is rented, agree not to enter the mobile home without the permission of the owner, and if the mobile home is the property of the landlord, to enter only after notice to the tenant;

(d) allow all tenants freedom of choice in the purchase of services such as laundry, milk, or any other such services desired by the tenant except that no mobile home park may be required to allow service vehicles into the park in such numbers and with such frequency that a danger is created for pedestrian traffic in the park; and

(e) maintain all roads within the mobile home park in good condition, providing adequate space for parking 2 cars for each trailer which does not block traffic on any road, and be responsible for damage to any vehicle which is the direct result of

unrepaired or poorly maintained access roads within the mobile home park.

(2) The tenant shall agree at all times during the tenancy to:

(a) keep the mobile home unit, if he rents such, or the exterior premises, if he rents the lot, in a clean and sanitary condition, free of garbage and rubbish;

(b) refrain from the storage of more than one motor vehicle for a period in excess of one month, when such vehicle is in a state if disrepair and therefor is incapable of being moved under its own power, and refrain from the storage of any icebox, stove, building material, furniture, or similar items on the exterior premises when such items are unusable;

(c) keep the supplied basic facilities, including plumbing fixtures, cooking and refrigeration equipment, and electrical fixtures in a leased mobile home unit in a clean and sanitary condition and be responsible for the exercise of reasonable care in their proper use and operation;

(d) dispose from his mobile home all rubbish, garbage, and other waste materials in a clean and sanitary manner as shall be spelled out in the agreement;

(e) abide by all rules or regulations concerning his use, occupation, and maintenance of the premises if such obligations are brought to his attention at the time he signs the rental agreement.

(3) The terms for the payment of rent shall be clearly set forth and all charges for services, ground or lot rent, unit rent, or any other charges shall be specifically itemized in the rental agreement and in all billings of the tenant by the landlord. The total rent for the term of the lease shall be stated therein.

No party other than the lessee, sub-lessee, or the estate of a deceased lessee or sub-lessee of a mobile home lot shall be responsible to the landlord for payment of rent under terms of any oral or written rental agreement, and the landlord shall not be entitled to remittance on the part of any seller of or mortgagee of a mobile home for rents not paid by the tenant and not collectible

from the tenant due to his permanently vacating his mobile home without notice to the landlord or mortgagee and leaving no forwarding address.

(4) Reasonable rules for guest parking shall be clearly stated and unless a violation thereof occurs, no fee shall be charged a tenant or the guest of a tenant for guest parking.

(5) The lease for a mobile home lot shall be transferrable at any time during the term of the lease from the lessee of a lot who owns his mobile home unit to any person to whom he may sell, or transfer title to, his mobile home. The new tenant shall assume all of the duties and obligations of the original lessee, and those of the landlord to the tenant shall remain as to the original lessee for the remainder of the term of the lease. Failure on the part of the original lessee to notify the lessor three weeks prior to the transfer of the lease of a transfer of title to his mobile home and transfer of the lease to a new lessee, giving the name and address of the new lessee in the notice, shall be grounds for termination of the lease by the lessor. The landlord shall have the right to reject the proposed new lessee on the same basis by which he accepts or rejects any new tenant. The new tenant may not be rejected, however, without a written statement as to the cause for such action being given to the original lessee.

(6) The actions on the part of the lessee which may be grounds for eviction from the mobile home park or termination of the lease shall be clearly and specifically stated therein.

(7) The following actions on the part of the tenant shall not constitute grounds for eviction or termination of the lease: (a) filing a complaint with any State, county, or local governmental official regarding any violation by the landlord of this Subchapter or any housing, health, building, sanitation, or other applicable statute or regulation; (b) requesting the landlord to honor his obligations and responsibilities under the terms of this Subchapter or any housing, building, sanitation, health or other applicable statute or regulation of the State, county, or municipality of jurisdiction; (c) filing of a suit against the owner of landlord for any reason; (d) withholding payment of rent while seeking relief for the failure of the landlord to carry out his duties or honor his obligations to the tenant as set out in the rental agreement, provided that the tenant can produce evidence to an

officer of the State Division of Physical Health, the Division of Housing, an officer of the County Department of Engineering, or an officer of any court, if one is called in by the landlord, that a breach of the lease or any State or county regulation governing mobile home parks on the part of the landlord has actually occurred and that the tenant is able to remit the total amount of the rent due upon compliance by the landlord.

Harassment of a tenant in the form of interruption of services, invasions of privacy, or similar means in retaliation for any of the above actions shall constitute grounds for a civil suit by the tenant against the landlord for damages.

Any rental agreement or lease hereafter executed or currently existing between a landlord and tenant in a mobile home park in this State shall not contain the following:

(1) Any provision which permits the landlord to collect a penalty fee for late payment of rent without allowing the tenant a minimum of five (5) days, beyond the date the rent is due, in which to remit;

(2) Any provision which permits the landlord to charge, for late payment of rent, a penalty fee in excess of five (5) per cent of the total lot rent due or four (4) per cent of the total rent due for the mobile home and lot;

(3) Any provision which allows the landlord to increase the total rent or change the payment arrangements during the term of the lease;

(4) Any provision allowing the landlord to charge an amount in excess of one month's rent for a security deposit or to retain the security deposit upon termination of the lease if the tenant has paid his rent in full as of the date of termination and has caused no damage to the landlord's property;

(5) Any provision allowing the landlord to charge an "entrance fee" to a tenant assuming occupancy;

(6) Any provision which prohibits the lessee from terminating the lease upon thirty (30) days notice whenever a change in the location of the lessee's employment requires a change in the

location of his residence except that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a tenant who is a member of the armed forces of the United States from terminating a lease with less than thirty (30) days notice to his landlord if he receives reassignment orders which do not allow such prior notification;

(7) A waiver of any cause of action against, or indemnification from the lessor by lessee for any injury or harm caused to the lessee, his family, his guests or his property, or the property of his family or his guests resulting from any negligence of the lessor, his agents, or assigns in the maintenance of the premises;

(8) Any provision which denies to the lessee the right to treat a continuing violation, substantial in nature, by the lessor of any agreement or duty protecting the health, welfare or safety of the tenants or occupants, which is set forth in the lease, or which otherwise binds the lessor as a matter of law, as a constructive or actual eviction, which would otherwise permit the lessee to terminate the lease, and to immediately cease payments thereunder, provided that the lessor fails to correct the condition giving rise to the violation or fails to cease the violation within a reasonable time after written notice is given by lessee by registered mail.

§ 5124. Remedies, tenants

If the landlord fails to substantially conform to the rental agreement, or if there is a material noncompliance with any code, statute, ordinance, or regulation governing the operation of a mobile home park or the maintenance of the premises, the tenant may, on notice to the landlord, terminate the rental agreement and vacate the premises at any time during the first month of occupancy. The tenant shall retain the right to terminate beyond the first month of occupancy so long as he remains in possession in reliance on a promise, whether written or oral, by the landlord to correct all or any part of the condition or conditions which would justify termination by the tenant under this section.

If there exists any condition which deprives the tenant of a substantial part of the benefit and enjoyment of this bargain, the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of the situation and, if the landlord does not remedy the situation within fifteen (15) days, terminate the rental agreement. Such notice need not be

given where the condition renders the mobile home uninhabitable or poses an imminent threat to the health, welfare, and safety of any occupant.

The tenant may not terminate for a condition caused by want of due care of the tenant, a member of his family, or other person on the premises with his consent.

If the condition referred to above was caused willfully or negligently by the landlord, the tenant may recover any damages sustained as a result of the condition including, but not limited to, reasonable expenditures necessary to obtain adequate substitute housing while the mobile home is uninhabitable.

If the landlord of a mobile home park fails to repair, maintain, keep in sanitary condition, or perform in any other manner required by statute or as agreed to in a rental agreement and fails to remedy such failure within thirty (30) days after being notified by the tenant to do so, the tenant may further notify the landlord of his intention to correct the objectionable condition at the landlord's expense and immediately do or have done the necessary work. The tenant may deduct from his rent a reasonable sum for his expenditures by submitting to the landlord copies of his receipts covering at least the sum deducted.

§ 5125. Remedies, landlord

A landlord may, any time after rent is overdue longer than fifteen (15) days, demand payment thereof and notify the tenant in writing that unless payment is made within a time specified in the notice, not less than five (5) days after receipt thereof, the rental agreement will be terminated. If the tenant remains in default, the landlord may thereafter bring any proper legal action for recovery of rent due and terminate the tenant's lease.

If the tenant breaches any rule or agreement which is material to the lease, the landlord shall notify the tenant of his breach and must allow ten (10) days after such notice for the remedy or correction of such breach. Such notice shall substantially specify the rule allegedly breached and advise the tenant that if the violation continues after not less than ten (10) days after receipt of said notice, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement.

§ 5126. Termination of the rental agreement

Whenever the term of the rental agreement expires, if the tenant continues in possession of the premises after the date of termination without the landlord's consent, such tenant shall pay to the landlord a sum, not to exceed the monthly rental under previous agreement, computed and prorated on a daily basis, for each day he remains in possession for any period.

§ 5127. Security deposit

If a rental agreement requires the tenant to provide any deposit to the landlord, to be held for the term of the rental agreement, or any part thereof, said deposit shall be considered a security deposit. Security deposits shall be returned in full to the tenant, provided that the lessee has paid all rent due in full for the term of the lease and has caused no actual damages to the leased premises. If the landlord has not returned the security deposit to the tenant prior to the termination of the lease, within fifteen (15) days of the termination or expiration of any lease, the lessor shall provide the lessee with an itemized list of damages to the premises and the estimated cost of repair of each. With the list the landlord shall tender payment for the difference between the security deposit and the estimated cost of repair of damages to the premises. Acceptance of this tender by the lessee shall constitute agreement on the damages as specified by the lessor.

Failure by the landlord to provide a list of damages and tender the remainder of the tenant's deposit within fifteen (15) days shall constitute agreement by the lessor that no damages are due and he shall immediately remit to the lessee the full amount of the security deposit. Failure to provide a forwarding address to the landlord prior to or upon termination of the lease shall relieve the lessor of his responsibilities under this section.

§ 5128. Renewal of rental agreement

Any one (1) year rental agreement shall be automatically renewable for a term of one year unless the landlord, with due cause, shall notify the tenant two months prior to the expiration of the lease that it will not be renewed, or the tenant shall notify the landlord one month prior to the expiration of the lease that he does not intend to renew it.

Any lease or rental agreement, whether oral or written, shall be automatically renewable for the same term as the original agreement unless either party, in person or by registered mail, chooses to notify the other a minimum of two weeks prior to the expiration that the agreement shall not be renewed. The only exceptions shall be those set forth above and those wherein the landlord waives his right to advance notice.

§ 5129. Severability

If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to that end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.

Approved July 15, 1971.