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When landlords breach a lease agreement

Many Delaware residents rent a home or an apartment, but interactions with landlords don't always go according to plan. State law provides various mechanisms that renters can use to seek remedies or terminate their leases when their landlords fall short of their obligations.

According to the state's residential landlord-tenant statutes, tenants whose landlords fail to satisfy legal regulations or fail to uphold verbal or written promises to correct problems can provide their landlords with written notice of their intent to terminate a lease and leave the property. This right must be exercised within the first month of moving in.

Tenants can also provide notice of their intent to vacate for up to six months after moving in if landlords fail to correct conditions they were previously informed of. Landlords generally have 15 days to fix deficiencies before tenants can move out, but those who want to vacate may need to file a complaint with the court having jurisdiction. Renters can also seek legal damages such as rent reductions starting from the time they told their landlords about the problems. When landlords cause deficiencies through their negligence or willful actions, tenants are eligible to seek a month's rent plus their security deposit or the difference between their owed rent and what it would cost them to find new housing for the rest of the lease term.

Some renters find it difficult to negotiate landlord/tenant matters because they are unaware of their rights and legal protections. Many renters with families wish to avoid disrupting the lives of their dependents, and landlords might resist giving back security deposits or doling out rent refunds that could make it easier to vacate. Renters who face disputes may find it helpful to discuss their options with a lawyer who has experience with these matters.

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