The Delaware Civil Complaint form is used by landlords to begin the act of possession of the rental unit after properly documented lease violations. The form is used after applicable notices have been given to the tenant (such as the 5 Day Notice to pay Rent or Quit, or the 7 Day Notice to Cure or Vacate). The Complaint form must be downloaded and filled in and filed with the Justice of the Peace court that is nearest the rental unit.
IMPORTANT: If you are suing for back rent but not for possession of the rental property, do not use this form. Suing for back rent but not for possession is a debt action and operates under a different court process.
The landlord is the Complaint plaintiff and the tenant is the defendant. Information for both parties and their attorneys, if they have attorneys, must be entered on the form. Because the Complaint form is used with all Justice of the Peace civil cases, be sure to check the box for Summary Possession (Landlord/Tenant). Then, briefly but clearly, explain the lease violation and the relief that you’re seeking, such as back rent, and possession of the rental property.
For lease violations in addition to or other than unpaid rent, you must list the rule that was broken, the date your tenant was notified of the rule, and the manner in which your tenant learned about the rule. You must attach a copy of the rule that your tenant broke - in most cases this is the lease or a lease amendment - and you must supply proof that the rule was broken and your tenant was properly notified of the violation. If it is a repeat violation, this must be noted.
Finally, landlords in Delaware have the option of seeking a jury trial in Justice of the Peace courts. If you desire a jury trial, you must check the YES box next to Jury Trial Demanded.
Make 4 copies of the complaint form and all attachments. Attachments should include:
- Lease agreement
- Notices served on the tenant
- Proof of notice service
- Any other relevant documents
Keep a copy of the complaint and the attachments. Give the court the original complaint and attachments and three copies. You will have to pay a fee that covers the Complaint filing and the cost of serving the tenant with the Complaint. Once the Complaint is filed, the tenant will be served, typically by the local constable, with a copy of the Complaint and a summons to appear at court. The landlord will be mailed a notice of the trial date and time.
For more information on the Delaware Residential Landlord-Tenant Code and a full description of eviction notices, visit Delaware.gov