Renters across Delaware are seeking housing justice.
Faced with high costs to rent, unaffordable neighborhoods, and limited access to high quality rental properties, renters are struggling to meet their most basic needs. The situation is even more dire for poor people, Black and Brown residents, and immigrants across Delaware.
H.O.M.E.S. believes that all residents in Delaware have a right to affordable homes. We are advocating for policies that will ensure the permanent establishment of affordable housing units and rent control. We are fighting the unfair displacement of renters through illegal evictions and unfair rules and practices. We are seeking to build tenant’s power through community organizing and renter’s unions.
POLICIES ON OUR 2023 AGENDA
RIGHT TO COUNSEL
Provide free legal representation to low-income tenants facing eviction, Over half of Wilmingtonians are now renters, and more than half of them are already cost-burdened, spending over a third of their income on housing. Tenant advocates across the country have warned in the last few years that the nation is facing an eviction epidemic, created in part by escalating housing costs, diminishing numbers of affordable units, stagnating wages, and an aging supply of homes.
GET ALL RENTAL PROPERTIES LICENSED
Create a six-month amnesty period for unlicensed landlords to get rental licenses their properties. Use city data systems to identify possible rental properties that are not licensed. Reach out to every possible unlicensed rental property in the city with information and deadlines for registration. After six months, aggressively enforce $1000 civil penalty in existing code for unlicensed landlords (L&I Dept.).
Make having a rental property license a requirement for the process of being able to evict a tenant.
REQUIRE INSPECTION AS CONDITION OF LICENSING
As part of annual rental property licensing, require an inspection by a licensed housing inspector based on a standard checklist.
GET OWNER INFORMATION FOR EVERY RENTAL PROPERTY
Revise Rental Property Registration Form to include names and contact information of beneficial owners for any property owner that is a business entity, including LLC, etc as required by existing code (L&I Dept.).
IDENTIFY PROBLEM PROPERTIES AND PROBLEM LANDLORDS
Use city data systems to sort rentals into categories (Tier 1: problem landlords/properties, Tier 2: 2 year rental inspection cycle, Tier 3: 5 year rental inspection cycle) based on history of code violations to align enforcement actions with need for oversight. (L&I Dept.)
IMPLEMENT REGULAR RENTAL PROPERTY INSPECTIONS
Use rental property categories to establish and implement a schedule for regular inspections of all 15,000+ rental properties in the City of Wilmington (L&I Dept.).
ENHANCE CODE ENFORCEMENT ON PROBLEM PROPERTIES AND PROBLEM LANDLORDS
Implement enhanced enforcement program on rental property owners that are consistently or egregiously violating housing code standards to bring them into compliance. Escalate enforcement as necessary, including issuing criminal summons, enforcing the Nuisance Property Law, requiring rent withholding, completing repairs using withheld rent, and utilizing other existing enforcement tools against rental property owners that are neglecting their properties to get them to fix their properties. Track results and share with City Council, the media and the public (L&I Dept.).