2024 Legislation

Pool Lifeguards- HB 348- passed

This Act removes the requirement for a lifeguard at a pool exclusively serving a residential or apartment community not accessible to the general public. Under existing law, a lifeguard is not required at a hotel, motel, or campground. A lifeguard is not required in a family community when the pool is or will ultimately be owned by residents. Requiring a lifeguard at a pool that is not accessible to the public increases the cost for private communities which must be passed on to tenants in the form of higher rent. This legislation aligns the statutory and regulatory requirements so that the lifeguard requirement in a rental community is the same as for a single family residential community, hotel, motel, and campground.

Escrow Bill- SA 4-Currently tabled at the House HS 1 for HB 191 w/ HA 1 +SA 4,

This substitute bill provides more clarity on the process by which a tenant may file an action in the Justice of the Peace Court to withhold rent payments in escrow. Specifically, the bill provides what the tenant must file in order to bring such action and how such actions proceed in court. This substitute bill also provides the remedy of termination of lease when the conditions of the rental unit threatens the life, health, or safety of the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household. This substitute bill also clarifies the appeal process for actions to withhold rent payments in escrow. This substitute bill also provides a tenant the right to raise as an affirmative defense to an action for summary possession filed by the landlord that a condition exists that threatens the life, health, or safety of the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household if the tenant satisfies specific requirements. If the Court determines that the tenant has satisfied those requirements, the Court may order that in lieu of summary possession, the tenant pay all base monthly rent owed to the landlord to an escrow account established by the Court. The Court may order the landlord to remedy the conditions alleged by a specific date. If both the landlord and tenant comply with the Court’s order, the amount held in escrow will be paid to the landlord within 30 days, and no judgment for possession shall be entered. Finally, this substitute bill provides that the Act will take effect 180 days after its enactment into law in order to provide the Justice of the Peace Court sufficient time to enact rules to implement the Act.

Housing Choice Vouchers/ Source of Income- PASSED- SS 1 for SB 293

Original Synopsis: The Delaware Fair Housing Act, Chapter 46 of Title 6, and Residential Landlord-Tenant Code, Chapter 51 of Title 25, both prohibit discrimination based on source of income, which is defined as including rental payments from any government program. However, both laws also provide that a landlord's non participation in a government-sponsored rental assistance, voucher, or certificate system cannot be the basis for an administrative or judicial proceeding. This Act revises both the Delaware Fair Housing Act and Residential Landlord-Tenant Code to repeal the exemption to discrimination based on source of income that allows a landlord to discriminate against tenants who participate in government-sponsored rental assistance programs because this exemption contributes to a lack of affordable housing in this State. There is currently a severe shortage of affordable housing for extremely low-income households in Delaware, with only 38 affordable rental units available for every 100 extremely low-income households. In addition, studies have shown that people who use government subsidies to move from high-poverty neighborhoods to communities with more opportunity have measurable health improvements and the children in these families earn more in adulthood than children who remain in high-poverty neighborhoods. This Act delays the effective date of this Act to allow the opportunity for all of the following to occur: 1. Conduct outreach and education to landlords about how this Act changes the law. This outreach will include information explaining that while the law prohibits a landlord from having a blanket policy of not accepting government assistance to pay rent, it does not require a landlord to accept all applicants who receive rental assistance, such as applicants who have a history of evictions or not paying utility bills. 2. Explore opportunities to streamline and standardize the processes used by government assistance.

Rent Control- Introduced 6/28/24 as a placeholder for January 2025  HB 455

This Act creates a 10-year program to address the lack of affordable housing in Delaware by establishing statewide limitations on the amount that rent can be increased as follows: 1. When a rental agreement is renewed, the rent increase may not exceed 5% of the previous rent unless the 36-month average annual increase of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) is greater than 5%. If the 36-month CPI-U is greater than 5%, the rent may be increased by no more than 7% of the previous rent. 2. For a new rental agreement, the amount rent can be increased from the previous rent is as follows: • If the amount of the previous rent is equal to or exceeds the Fair Market Rent (FMR), the rent may not exceed the previous rent plus the amount allowed for a rent increase for the renewal of a rental agreement. • If the amount of the previous rent plus 7% of the FMR equals or exceeds the FMR, the rent may not exceed the previous rent plus the amount allowed for a rent increase for the renewal of a rental agreement. • If the amount of the previous rent plus 7% of the FMR equals less than the FMR, the rent may not exceed the previous rent plus 7% of the FMR. The limitations on the amount of rent under this Act do not apply to any of the following: • Owner-occupied structures with 2 dwelling units. • Rental agreements when the amount of a tenant's rent is governed by federal regulations or guidelines. • A rental unit that has not been subject to a rental agreement during the previous 12-month period. This Act requires that the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) annually do all of the following: • Calculate and publish the 36-month CPI-U for New Castle County and for Kent and Sussex counties. • Publish the FMR for each county. • Create and publish an explanation of the limitations on the amount of rent under this Act. • Compile a report regarding the effectiveness of the limits on the amount of rent under this Act. This Act also requires that DSHA establish procedures to annually collect and analyze rental housing data in this State to measure the supply and availability of rental housing, including the amount of rent for rental units and other operating characteristics. Beginning January 1, 2026, landlords must annually provide specific data for rental units to DSHA. If a landlord refuses or fails to comply with the data reporting requirement, the penalty for the first occurrence is a warning and opportunity to comply and for subsequent violations, a civil penalty that does not exceed $150 for each occurrence. Finally, if House Bill No. 381 (152nd) is also enacted, this Act requires that Delaware Real Estate Commission’s comprehensive, statewide rights & responsibilities guide for landlords and tenants include information about requirements related to reporting rental unit data and the website where this data is published. Under existing law, this Act does not apply to leases of lots for manufactured homes under Ch. 70 of Title 25. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.