Holveck v. Christiana Meadows Apartments, Ca. No. CPU4-20-001503

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Delaware
Writing for the CourtMonica A. Horton Judge
PartiesHEATHER HOLVECK and STEVEN MURPHY, JR, Plaintiffs, v. CHRISTIANA MEADOWS APARTMENTS, Defendant.
Docket NumberCa. No. CPU4-20-001503
Decision Date10 September 2020

HEATHER HOLVECK and STEVEN MURPHY, JR, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHRISTIANA MEADOWS APARTMENTS, Defendant.

Ca. No. CPU4-20-001503

COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FOR THE STATE OF DELAWARE IN AND FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY

Submitted: July 31, 2020
September 10, 2020


Heather Holveck and Steven Murphy, Jr.
601 Balsam Ter
Wilmington, DE 19804
Pro se Plaintiffs

Jillian M. Pratt, Esq.
3704 Kennett Pike, Ste 200
Greenville, DE 19807
Attorney for Defendant

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

1. This matter is an action based upon a residential lease between the parties. On April 25, 2020, Heather Holveck and Steven Murphy, Jr. (hereinafter "Plaintiffs") filed a pro se Complaint against Christiana Meadows Apartments (hereinafter "Defendant"), in which they allege that Defendant wrongfully withheld their security deposit.

2. On June 8, 2020, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. In its Motion, Defendant states that it sent Plaintiffs a letter itemizing the expenses that it deducted from Plaintiffs security deposit, along with two checks that represented the balance of the security deposit. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs did not submit a written objection to the deducted expenses within ten days as required by statute.

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Moreover, according to Defendant, once Plaintiff cashed the checks for the difference between the security deposit and costs to repair damage to the rental unit, such action constituted an agreement on the itemized deductions. Defendant concludes that Plaintiffs have failed to meet their statutory obligations and thus, have failed to state a viable claim against Defendant.

3. On July 9, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Response to Defendant's Motion. Plaintiffs assert that the Defendant is not entitled to retain any portion of the security deposit for damages due to ordinary wear and tear. Plaintiffs argue that they contested the deduction from the security deposits within ten days in an email exchange between the parties. Plaintiffs argue that the parties regularly communicated via email and that such an established course of dealing constituted proper notice to Defendants of Plaintiff's objections.

4. On July 31, 2020, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. At the hearing, Defendant argued that Plaintiffs' email disputing the amount withheld from the security deposit did not constitute written notice, as that term is used under Delaware's Landlord-Tenant Code. The Defendant asserted that while the Landlord-Tenant Code does not specify what constitutes a writing, the practice in the Justice of the Peace Court1 contemplates an actual writing sent via mail. Defendant argues that 25 Del C. § 5113 requires service of notices to be made by personal delivery or writing via mail, and that 25 Del. C. § 5514(h) requires that notices be sent to an address specified in the rental agreement. Defendant further argues that Plaintiffs' course of dealings argument is impermissible under the Landlord-Tenant Code. In rebuttal, Plaintiffs reiterated the arguments contained in their Response.

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5. In considering a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must assume that all...

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