The Delaware laws for repairs and alterations are pretty standard with a few additions. Your tenant may not make any repairs or alterations without prior written consent from you and, if applicable, the homeowners association. The repairs and alterations must conform to a professional standard of quality. In addition, any repairs done by your tenant become your property, and the tenant is not entitled to any compensation for the repairs or alterations.

Any locks or security systems must be installed with written consent from you, the landlord, and your tenant must provide a key and/or instructions to safely disable the security system. However, per 25 Del.C. § 5509, your tenant has the right to install a new lock at their own cost provided that he or she notifies you in writing and has supplied you with a key to the lock; the new lock fits into a system already in place; and the lock installation does not cause damage to the door.

Two additions in Delaware’s repairs and alterations laws come with the tenant’s obligation relating to defective conditions and the tenant’s repair and deduct remedy. The obligation relating to defective conditions merely states that the tenant has the duty to report to you any defective condition of the premises that he or she reasonably believes is either your or another tenant’s responsibility to fix. Any injury or liability to you that results from your tenant not reporting the defective condition in a timely manner is the responsibility of the tenant.

The repair and deduct remedy is a bit more complicated. If the landlord has failed to repair, maintain, or keep in a sanitary condition the premises or has failed to perform another duty within the lease neither having completed it in 30 days nor having made reasonable corrective measures within 10 days, and the tenant has notified the landlord of said issue, then the tenant may do or have done the necessary work to correct the defect in a professional manner. After the work is done, the tenant may deduct from the rent a reasonable sum, not exceeding $200 or ½ month’s rent (whichever is less), for the cost of the work by submitting copies of the receipts to the landlord. For no reason may your tenant repair and deduct anything that was the fault of the tenant’s negligence or that of someone on the premises with the tenant’s permission, nor may a tenant recover a repair and deduct remedy if they are late on rent payment.