In Delaware "security
deposit" means any deposit, not
including a pet deposit, that a tenant gives to the
landlord and the landlord holds for any part of the
duration of the rental agreement.
"pet deposit" means any deposit held by the
landlord because the tenant keeps an animal in a rental
unit. The MAXIMUM DELAWARE PET DEPOSIT is one
If the landlord requires a
tenant to pay a fee to determine the tenant's credit
our tenant screening service) , this fee is
called an "application fee." It is illegal for
the prospective landlord or owner of the rental unit to
ask for any "assurance money" or other payment
which is not an application fee, security deposit, or pet
SECURITY DEPOSIT AMOUNT
FOR LEASES of ONE YEAR OR
MORE or MONTH TO MONTH OVER ONE YEAR: ONE
MONTH RENT. However, the landlord may require a
security deposit in excess of one month's rent for a
furnished rental unit, rental of certain
federally-assisted housing and where the tenancy is
expected to last less than one year.
Preventative Steps to Take to Ensure a Deposit Return
The chances of receiving return of the
deposit will be increased if the following suggestions are also
Give your landlord your forwarding address in
writing as soon as you move out. Until you do, your
landlord may not have to return your security deposit!
(they should mail it to your last know address) If you
don’t know where you will be moving, give the landlord an
address at which you will receive mail. Send your new
(forwarding) address by certified mail with return
receipt requested through the US Post Office so you have
proof your letter was sent.
Move-in Inventory Inspection. When you move in your home
or apartment, make a list and take photos of the apartment and
any damage. Typically, you should do a walk through with the
owner or manager prior to moving in. Get them to sign an
acknowledgement of the damage and note what (if anything) will
be done. This will help you when you move out.
Move-Out Notice. A lease may require that the tenant give
the landlord 30 days written notice prior to move-out in order
to get the security deposit back. Even if
the lease does not require it, notify the landlord prior
Move-out Inventory Inspection. When the tenant prepares
to move, the apartment or home should be cleaned and the
landlord asked to appear for a move out inspection. The tenant
should fill out another inventory form, similar to the move-in
inventory. Ideally, you should have a copy of the original move
in form - for both your use and the landlord.
Turn in the Keys. The keys should be turned in on the
exact day the tenant vacates the premises. If the keys are
turned in later, the landlord may be able to charge the tenant
additional rent or other charges under the lease. A tenant's
actual move out date is often considered to be when the keys are
What Can the Landlord Deduct from the Security Deposit?
A landlord cannot legally deduct for normal
wear and tear. This refers to deterioration which
occurs during regular, daily, intended use of the rental unit,
for example nail holes in the walls from pictures or paintings.
See our guide.
Deductions from the Security Deposit
If the landlord makes any deductions from the deposit, a
written, itemized accounting of how much is being charged for
each item must be sent to the tenant.
If you gave your landlord a forwarding address in writing,
your landlord must do one of the following within 20
you move out:
Return your full security deposit plus any interest; or
Send you an itemized written statement of expenses
deducted from your security deposit, along with the balance
of your deposit and interest.
How to Dispute Deposit Deductions -
If a tenant receives a list of deductions, it is
possible to dispute items on that list. The deductions should be
addressed by the tenant in a letter sent to the landlord. The
demand letter should include a response to each of the
deductions, explaining which charges are being disputed and why.
The tenant should keep a copy of the letter and send the
original by certified mail, return receipt requested.
If the tenant receives a partial refund along with the list of
deductions and wants to dispute some or all of the deductions,
the tenant may want to refrain from cashing the check. If the
tenant must cash the check then the tenant should tell the
landlord in the letter that even though the check has been
cashed, it does not mean the tenant agrees with the amount of