COVID-19 Information for Delaware
The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.
State and Local Affiliates
Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.
State Legal and Regulatory Information
We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws and other policy issues.
Shelter in Place
Effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, a “Shelter in Place” order is currently in effect for the state of Delaware through Friday, May 15, 2020. The order covers property management as an essential business in Section Q, line 15. “Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults or children.” This order has now been extended through Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Effective Friday, May 8, 2020, Delaware will be taking interim steps to allow non-essential retail businesses to resume operations with limited occupancy rules and certain safety requirements.
Phase 1 of Delaware’s economic reopening is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 1, 2020, allowing retail establishments, restaurants and other businesses to open at 30 percent of stated fire capacity with social distancing requirements and other public health guidance in place.
State of Emergency
Governor John Carney declared a state of emergency on March 12.
Status: Eviction Enforcement Suspended
- Action: Suspension of eviction proceedings and ejectments ordered and scheduled.
- Scope: All lease violations.
- Exceptions: “Forthwith summons applications in landlord-tenant matters involving essential services and/or harm to person or property will be accepted and ruled upon” – “Case by case exceptions to these guidelines may be ordered at the discretion of the Court and with proper notice to all parties.”
- Duration: Until further notice. A comprehensive standing order related to residential eviction filings will be issued at the expiration of the Governors Executive Order implementing an eviction moratorium.
- COVID-19 Related Impact Requirement: No.
- Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.
Additional Commentary: The Justice of the Peace Court has also ordered that all landlord/tenant cases and ordered/scheduled evictions between March 17, 2020 and April 16, 2020 be delayed until after June 1, 2020, with exceptions for "landlord-tenant matters involving essential services and/or harm to persons or property."
- Action: Actions for summary possession may be filed with respect to any residential unit in the state, but are stayed to permit the Justice of the Peace Court to determine whether the parties would benefit from participating in court supervised mediation or alternative dispute resolution, which may include appropriate housing support services, as determined by the Delaware State Housing Authority, if requested by either party of the court. Sheriffs, constables, court officers, and their agents shall refrain from acting to remove individuals from residential properties through the eviction process during the time this Order is in effect, unless the court determines on its own motion or motion of the parties that enforcement is necessary in the interest of justice. Any action for summary possession filed before the State of emergency for which no final judgment had been entered shall be further stayed as defined above.
- Exceptions: Summary possession actions based on claims of irreparable harm to person or property.
- Duration: Through the end of the state of emergency.
- COVID-19 Related Impact Requirement: No.
Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.
Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance
On March 26, 2020, Gov. Carney and the Delaware State Housing Authority established a $2.5 million Housing Assistance Fund for renters experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Renters must make 80% below the area median income for their respective county to be eligible and can apply for up to $1,500 in support that will be paid directly to their housing provider or utility provider.
On August 9, 2020, state leaders announced that $40 million in assistance is now available for those most affected.
With the relaunch of the Delaware Housing Assistance Program and through the Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program up to $5,000 of assistance can support qualified households and renters. If applications are approved, payments due for rent or mortgages will be sent directly to landlords or servicer banks, not individuals.
The state of Delaware and New Castle County will each contribute $20 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support maintaining places of residence.
Housing applicants must be Delaware residents with a maximum household income at or below 60% of the area median income for the county in which they reside, according to the news release. More information on the COVID-19 rental and mortgage assistance programs is available online at destatehousing.com/covid19. Landlords and property owners can submit applications on behalf of their tenants online.
No rent freeze is in effect at the state or local level. There is no statute preempting local rent regulation.
Delaware does not have statutory language regulating price gouging during declarations of emergency.