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AG Denn says focus on criminal nuisance properties is working

Delaware Public Media


The Department of Justice announced Thursday that a collaboration with local police agencies to target nuisance properties is working.

A nuisance property is a home or business known for being a haven for drug activity, illegal firearms, violent crime or prostitution.

Attorney General Matt Denn said the collaboration is focusing its increased enforcement mainly on landlords.

“We’re focused on cases where our intervention is necessary because the landlord isn’t using tools like the landlord-tenant code or working with local police to try to deal with it,” Denn said.   

Denn’s predecessor - the late Beau Biden - created Delaware’s nuisance property statute in 2000 when he was the state's attorney general. It gives law enforcement and prosecutors a wide range of powers.


“In some cases we can forbid people from being on the property, require screening of new tenants before they’re permitted to rent the property, or in the most extreme cases, require that the property be sold to a new owner,” Denn said.   


But the state has never fully utilized it until this past year.

Before this year, the state has typically taken formal legal action against one or two nuisance properties a year.

In the past 12 months, however, the state taken formal legal action against nine nuisance properties.

In that same period, the state has also curbed criminal activity at 29 nuisance properties without taking legal action.  

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