Breach of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment in a Rental Unit
Under California law, the covenant of quiet enjoyment is an implied warranty contained in every lease and rental agreement regardless of whether the agreement contains a written covenant. The implied covenant of quiet enjoyment is similar to the implied warranty of habitability, which guarantees that the landlord will maintain the leased or rented premises in a state of good repair. Quiet enjoyment is a tenant’s right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of his or her rental unit. The covenant of quiet enjoyment includes several implied tenant rights, including:
- A reasonable expectation of privacy
- Peace, quiet and solitude
- Freedom from unreasonable disturbances from the landlord or other tenants
- Exclusive possession of the rental unit, subject to the landlord’s right of access pursuant to the terms of the lease or rental agreement
- The use of common areas, free from significant disturbance or interference by the landlord or other tenants
- The provision of basic services such as electricity, heat and hot water
Certain actions or omissions by a landlord intended to influence a tenant to voluntarily vacate a rental unit are considered illegal in California. A landlord may not interfere with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of his or her rental unit in any unreasonable manner. A landlord is prohibited from entering a tenant’s rental unit at will. Advance written notice must be provided to the tenant before the landlord is permitted to enter the rental unit.
In order to constitute a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, a landlord’s behavior must significantly disrupt the tenant’s use of his or her rental unit. A tenant who believes that his or her use and enjoyment of a rental unit is impaired by actions of a landlord or another tenant should advise the landlord of the situation in writing and allow the landlord a reasonable opportunity to resolve the problem. Our firm offers demand letters to assist tenants in getting the message to the landlord that such behavior is illegal and will not be tolerated.
If there is a significant and continued interference with a tenant’s rights to quiet enjoyment of his or her rental unit, the landlord may be in breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. The tenant may have several remedies under the law, including partial rent abatement, or the ability to move out in spite of a current lease agreement. It is important to consult an attorney about the severity of the problem in order to determine whether it is sufficiently substantial to give rise to these legal remedies.
If your landlord’s actions or omissions are interfering with your quiet use and enjoyment of your rental premises, it’s important to assess your rights. Please contact us today to schedule your one-hour consultation and find out your legal options.