Delaware weighing creation of tenant right to counsel

05/06/2022, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE: Studies support provision of right to counsel


A new study by the University of Delaware School of Public Policy and Administration found that 21% of adults in homeless shelters had an eviction within a 2-year period prior to shelter use, with higher numbers for those who had children, were Black, and/or were female.


Additionally, a 2020 study found that "During 2019, over $2.5 million in income, health, or housing benefits resulted from preventing evictions in Delaware."




Delaware Senate Bill 101, filed in May, would guarantee a right to counsel for tenants not just in eviction proceedings and in administrative proceedings to terminate housing subsidies, but also for "A judicial or administrative proceeding to remedy a violation of law related to landlord-tenant matters, such as rent escrow, retaliatory actions, security deposits, habitability, illegal eviction, or violation of quiet use and enjoyment."  The bill’s introduction was covered by WDELWHYY, WDIY, and Delaware Online.  The bill is supported by a just-released Stout report that found "With an annual investment of approximately $3.4 million in a right to counsel, Delaware may save at least an estimated $9.4 million in costs related to disruptive displacement of tenants annually."  It also reported that only 2% of Delaware tenants are represented, compared to 86% of landlords and that "represented tenants are 4 times more likely to avoid disruptive displacement than unrepresented tenants."


Delaware joins 8 other states that are considering or have already enacted statewide eviction right to counsel legislation this year.  



The NCCRC has given input to the advocacy coalition behind the bill.