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Four elements every Delaware rental agreement should have

Having a lease agreement complete with the essential elements may help avoid some landlord-tenant disputes.

When renting out residential properties, it is common for Delaware landlords to have lease or rental agreements with their tenants. These types of legal contracts include business details vital to the tenancy, and may be practical in protecting both sides. In order to ensure they, their property and their tenants are protected, there are several elements landlords should be sure to include when drawing up a rental agreement.

Names of the tenants

It is common for more than one adult to reside in a rental unit. When drawing up a rental agreement, it is important to name each adult tenant. This includes all roommates in a residence and both members of couples who are living together. Taking this step makes each tenant equally responsible for abiding by the contract terms.

Occupancy limits

Sometimes, tenants may take it upon themselves to let friends or relatives move in with them. In other cases, they may sublet a rental unit without permission. Consequently, landlords may have people residing in their properties who they have not met, screened or approved. Therefore, it is beneficial to include limits on occupancy in lease agreements.

Occupancy limit clauses clearly specify that only those tenants who have signed the contract and their minor-aged children may reside in the rental unit. Including such a clause gives landlords the right to evict tenants who allow others to live with them without authorization.

Tenancy term

The duration of rental or lease agreements may vary from one situation to the next. Some landlords may opt for the flexibility of a month to month arrangement, while others may prefer a fixed-term agreement. Among the other clauses included in rental contracts, these documents should specify the tenancy term. Based on the specified duration, landlords and tenants may determine when and whether to renew or terminate an agreement. Unless otherwise specified, leases are presumed to be month to month.

Deposits and fees

As a part of their screening process, some landlords may choose to perform background or credit checks on potential tenants. To cover or aid in the costs of this, they may charge an application fee. In the state of Delaware, such fees cannot be more than 10 percent of the monthly rent or $50.

In addition to charging application fees, many landlords require security deposits from their tenants. The rental agreement should specify the amount of such deposits, as well as how the deposit may be used, how deductions will be accounted for and how the deposit will be refunded at the end of the lease term. If any portion of the deposit or fees are non-refundable, this should also be stipulated in the rental agreement.


Perhaps one of the most essential elements of a lease or rental agreement is the rent. Landlords should specify the amount to be paid each month, when the payments are due and how the payments are to be made. Stipulating these details, as well as any repercussions if the rent is not paid on time, may help avoid some landlord-tenant disputes.

Seeking legal guidance

Although essential to most landlord-tenant relationships in Delaware, drawing up or understanding the language included in rental agreements may be complicated. Therefore, people who are planning on renting out a residence may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may guide them through the process of creating such a contract to ensure they are protected.