Residential Landlord-Tenant Code

CHAPTER 51. General Provisions

Subchapter II. Definitions

§ 5141. Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this part, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

(1) “Action” shall mean any claim advanced in a court proceeding in which rights are determined.

(2) “Building and housing codes” shall include any law, ordinance or governmental regulation concerning fitness for habitation or the construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use or appearance of any premises or dwelling unit.

(3) “Certificate of mailing” shall mean United States Postal Form No. 3817, or its successor.

(4) “Commercial rental unit” shall mean any lot, structure or portion thereof, which is occupied or rented solely or primarily for commercial or industrial purposes.

(5) “Deceased sole tenant” shall mean the sole leaseholder under a residential rental agreement entitled to occupy a residential rental unit to the exclusion of all others who has died. The right of nonleaseholder authorized occupant(s) of the residential rental unit, if any, to occupy the residential rental unit at the sole discretion of the deceased sole tenant while that tenant was alive shall immediately terminate upon the death of the sole tenant. The deceased sole tenant is also referred to as the “decedent” pursuant to § 2306(c)(3) of Title 12.

(6) “Disabled or handicapped” person shall have the same meaning as found in the Americans with Disabilities Act (1992) [42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.] as amended.

(7) “Domestic abuse” shall mean any act or threat against a victim of domestic abuse or violence that either constitutes a crime under Delaware law or any act or threat that constitutes domestic violence or domestic abuse as defined anywhere in the Delaware Code. Domestic abuse can be verified by an official document, such as a court order, or by a reliable third-party professional, including a law-enforcement agency or officer, a domestic violence or domestic abuse service provider, or health care provider. It is the domestic violence or abuse victim’s responsibility to provide the reliable statement from the reliable third party.

(8) “Equivalent substitute housing” shall mean a rental unit of like or similar location, size, facilities and rent.

(9) “Extended absence” shall mean any absence of more than 7 days.

(10) “Forthwith summons” shall mean any summons requiring the personal appearance of a party or person or persons at the earliest convenience of the court.

(11) “Gender identity” means a gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.

(12) “Good faith dispute” shall mean the manifestation of an honest difference of opinion relating to the rights of the parties to a rental agreement pursuant to such agreement, or pursuant to this Code.

(13) “Holdover” or “holdover tenant” shall mean a tenant who wrongfully retains possession or who wrongfully exercises control of the rental unit after the expiration or termination of the rental agreement.

(14) “Injunction” shall mean a court order prohibiting a party from doing an act or restraining a party from continuing an act.

(15) “Landlord” shall mean:

a. The owner, lessor or sublessor of the rental unit or the property of which it is a part and, in addition, shall mean any person authorized to exercise any aspect of the management of the premises, including any person who, directly or indirectly, receives rents or any part thereof other than as a bona fide purchaser and who has no obligation to deliver the whole of such receipts to another person; or

b. Any person held out by any landlord as the appropriate party to accept performance, whether such person is a landlord or not; or

c. Any person with whom the tenant normally deals as a landlord; or

d. Any person to whom the person specified in paragraphs (15)b. and c. of this section is directly or ultimately responsible.

(16) “Legal holiday” shall mean any date designated as a legal holiday under § 501 of Title 1.

(17) “Local government unit” shall mean a political subdivision of this State, including, but not limited to, a county, city, town or other incorporated community or subdivision of the subdivision providing local government service for residents in a geographically limited area of the State as its primary purpose, and has the power to act primarily on behalf of the area.

(18) “Month to month” shall mean a renewable term of 1 month.

(19) “Normal wear and tear” shall mean the deterioration in the condition of a property or premises by the ordinary and reasonable use of such property or premises.

(20) a. “Owner” shall mean 1 or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested:

1. All or part of the legal title to property; or

2. All or part of the beneficial ownership, usufruct and a right to present use and enjoyment of the premises.

b. The word “owner” shall include a mortgagee in possession.

(21) “Person” shall include an individual, artificial entity pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 57, government or governmental agency, statutory trust, business trust, 2 or more persons having a joint or common trust or any other legal or commercial entity.

(22) “Pet deposit” shall mean any deposit made to a landlord by a tenant to be held for the term of the rental agreement, or any part thereof, for the presence of an animal in a rental unit.

(23) “Premises” shall mean a rental unit and the structure of which it is a part, and the facilities and appurtenances therein, grounds, areas and facilities held out for the use of tenants generally, or whose use is contracted for between the landlord and the tenant.

(24) “Protective hairstyle” includes braids, locks, and twists.

(25) “Race” includes traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and a protective hairstyle.

(26) “Rental agreement” shall mean and include all agreements, written or oral, which establish or modify the terms, conditions, rules, regulations or any other provisions concerning the use and occupancy of a rental unit.

(27) “Rental unit,” “dwelling unit” or “dwelling place” shall mean any house, building, structure, or portion thereof, which is occupied, rented or leased as the home or residence of 1 or more persons.

(28) “Security deposit” shall mean any deposit, exclusive of a pet deposit, given to the landlord which is to be held for the term of the rental agreement or for any part thereof.

(29) “Senior citizen” shall mean any person, 62 years of age or older, regardless of the age of such person’s spouse.

(30) The terms “sexual offenses” and “stalking” shall here have the same meanings as in Title 11. Sexual offenses and stalking can be verified by an official document, such as a court order, or by a reliable third party professional, including a law-enforcement agency or officer, a sexual assault service provider, or health care provider. It is the sexual assault or stalking victim’s responsibility to provide the reliable statement from the reliable third party.

(31) “Sexual orientation” includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.

(32) “Source of income” shall have the meaning given in § 4602 of Title 6.

(33) “Support animal” shall mean any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks to meet the requirements of a disabled person, including, but not limited to, minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or retrieving dropped items.

(34) “Surety bond fee or premium” shall mean the amount of money the tenant pays to the surety for enrollment in a surety bond program in lieu of posting a security deposit.

(35) “Tenant” shall mean a person entitled under a rental agreement to occupy a rental unit to the exclusion of others, and the word “tenant” shall include an occupant of any premises pursuant to a conditional sales agreement which has been converted to a landlord/tenant agreement pursuant to § 314(d)(3) of this title.

(36) “Utility services” shall mean water, sewer, electricity or fuel.

70 Del. Laws, c. 513, §  173 Del. Laws, c. 329, §  7075 Del. Laws, c. 293, §  176 Del. Laws, c. 311, §  677 Del. Laws, c. 90, §  2079 Del. Laws, c. 47, §§  22, 2379 Del. Laws, c. 57, §  179 Del. Laws, c. 65, §  280 Del. Laws, c. 355, § 983 Del. Laws, c. 13, § 2283 Del. Laws, c. 195, § 6