Delaware launches Online Landlord-Tenant Dispute System
DELAWARE – Landlords and tenants in Delaware now have a new way to handle disputes, without having to come into court. Experts say this new resource couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Delaware courts have a backlog of 2,500 rent-related cases, and some of those are scheduled well into the new year. That combined with the eviction moratorium ending December 31, is causing a headache for Delaware’s court system. However, the state’s new Online Dispute Resolution system may offer some relief.
“So something like this will be very significant in trying to work through those cases efficiently, quickly, and to both sides benefit,” says Cynthia DePue, Executive Director at Legal Services Co. of Delaware.
The Justice of the Peace Court launched this Online Dispute Resolution system in an effort to handle the tremendous backlog of landlord and tenant cases in Delaware. The people involved get a chance to talk about their dispute instead of heading to court right away.
Marianne Kennedy, Court Administrator for the Justice of the Peace Court of Delaware explains what the system includes such as, “how much do they owe, what’s the issue with payment, what kind of information can they share about their current situation that can help move them a little closer to a resolution.”
Not only does this forum allow disputes to be handled quickly, the courts involvement with the Delaware Housing Authority gives landlords and tenants a chance to find resources to gather potential funding for rental help.
“We’re doing everything we can to get the word out to say , you know there’s help, there’s help from the court, there’s help from Delaware Housing, we’re working with Delaware Legal Aid and CLASI,” says Kennedy.
Many of these cases are the result of the lasting effects of COVID, and officials tell us that they want to make sure families don’t end up homeless, especially during this time.
DePue says, “this really does help smooth and stream line the process and get the people together very quickly and efficiently. So I don’t see this going away, if anything I think it will continue”
Any cases filed on or after July 1, 2020 are required to go through this process before a judge hears their case. Eventually the courts hope to use this system for debt actions such as small claims, and traffic cases.
If you’d like more information about legal services for landlord-tenant disputes, you can contact 302-575-0408 or visit www.lscd.com.