The Justice of the Peace Court handles
four basic types of civil cases which are described below.
A debt action is
a claim for a sum of money. Examples of debt actions include money claimed
on a loan, money claimed for purchases made, money claimed because work
for which payment has been made was not completed or properly done, money
claimed for unpaid rent, security deposits not returned, etc.
A civil trespass
action involves the wrongful, intentional, or negligent actions of a person
that resulted in damage to another’s property. For example, damages caused
by an improper act of another person may involve an automobile as a result
of a traffic accident, to a home, lawn, bicycle, or to any other personal
property. Information describing the incident, the type and amount of
damage, how the damages were calculated, and how the Defendant’s conduct
was improper must be stated in the complaint filed with the Court or in
a letter attached to the complaint.
Please note that
the Justice of the Peace Court cannot hear actions involving personal
injuries, mental anguish, etc.
A replevin action
may be filed by a person to get back an article or item of personal property
that is being withheld from them by another person. A detailed description,
serial number and value of the personal property must be included with
LANDLORD/TENANT (SUMMARY POSSESSION) ACTIONS
This action may be
filed by the landlord for possession of a rented property because of unpaid
rent or abuse and misuse of the rented property. If the landlord is seeking
back rent along with possession of the unit, this claim may be included
in the summary possession action. However, if the landlord is seeking
back rent only and not possession of the unit, a debt action should be
filed. Tenants may also file a landlord/tenant action if they have been
wrongfully kept out of the rented property. However, a claim for the return
of a security deposit only should be filed as a debt action.
Before the action
may be filed by a landlord, notice in writing must be given or sent to
the Tenant by the landlord. This notice must state that the tenant as
at least five days to pay the rent or at least seven days to correct the
abuse or misuse (ten days, if a mobile home) and that if the tenant does
not do so as instructed, a suit for possession may be filed with the Court.
actions may involve either residential or commercial units, as well as
For more information
see the booklet, How to File
and Defend a Summary Possession Action in the State of Delaware and
Code and/or Mobile
Homes Lots and Leases Act, as appropriate.