In Delaware, 86% of landlords are have representation from an attorney or agent in evictions court, but only 2% of tenants do. Tenants facing eviction are left to navigate this legal hurdle by themselves, without official counsel or legal assistance in a system that’s designed to protect landlords, not the tenants who rely on them for a safe, secure place to live.

Delaware has an opportunity to level the playing field by securing the right to counsel for eviction defense statewide. SB 101 would create a right to legal counsel for eviction defense for covered individuals, subject to a 3 year phase-in period. This legislation covers tenants whose household income is not greater than 200% of federal poverty guidelines. SB 101 also does the following:

  • Requires landlords to provide notice of the right to counsel at certain designated intervals of a tenancy and in eviction proceedings.
  • Creates an Eviction Diversion Program designed to help resolve payment or other issues prior to a landlord filing for eviction.
  • Prohibits landlords from filing for eviction unless the tenant owes at least one month's rent or $500 — whichever is greater — and prohibits landlords from continuing an eviction action if the tenant pays all rent due.
  • Allows tenants to stay in their home if they pay all back rent, fees, and costs prior to an eviction.
  • Provides COVID-19 speficic relief for certain tenants whose evictions were stayed "in the interests of justice" during the pandemic, per Governor Carney's Emergency Declaration.

Sponsors

Sen. Bryan Townsend (SD 11), Sen. Marie Pinkney (SD 13), Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown (RD 17), Rep. Kendra Johnson (RD 5), Rep. Larry Lambert (RD 7)

Status

Passed Senate

Session

151st General Assembly

Bill number

Position

Support