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.
- 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 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 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. A landlord is permitted to enter a rental unit in the event of an emergency, when a tenant has abandoned or vacated a rental unit and to perform necessary repairs or improvements. A landlord’s significant and intentional violation of the rules limiting access to a tenant’s rental unit is considered a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. If a landlord’s violation was significant, repeated and intentional, a tenant can sue the landlord in small claims court.California laws permit civil penalties of up for $2,000 for each violation.
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. Under California law, specific actions or omissions by a landlord or property owner constitute a breach of the covenant.
- Entering the rental unit frequently or without providing the tenant with advance written notice.
- Engaging in disruptive or unreasonable conduct.
- Failing to control unreasonable and disruptive noise or behavior.
- Intentional intimidation or harassment of a tenant.
- Refusing to allow a tenant access to certain portions of the rental premises, such as laundry facilities or designated parking areas.
- Preventing a tenant from entertaining guests without cause.
- Intentionally restricting or removing services.
- Failing to pay bills that result in a termination of services.
- Allowing the rental property to fall into a state of disrepair.
If a landlord fails to correct a disturbance that interferes with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of his or her rental unit, a tenant is justified in abandoning the rental unit. If there has been a significant interference with a tenant’s rights to quiet enjoyment of his or her rental unit and the landlord has failed to remedy the problem, the landlord has breached the implied covenant. The breach amounts to a constructive eviction if the tenant chooses to surrender possession of the rental unit. A tenant is permitted to withhold rent or abandon the property. A tenant who vacates a rental unit due to a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment has no further obligation to pay rent or honor the terms of a lease agreement. In essence, the landlord has breached the covenant and has constructively evicted the tenant.
In the event of a constructive eviction, a landlord may be required to compensate a tenant for moving costs and other expenses incurred as a result of the eviction.Californialaws pertaining to constructive eviction allow a tenant to recover actual damages such as moving expenses and the cost of obtaining a new rental property.
In order to prevail against the landlord in a constructive eviction action, the tenant must be able to demonstrate that there was a substantial interference with the ordinary enjoyment of the premises due to acts or omissions of the landlord that rendered the unit unfit for occupancy.
The Castelblanco Law Group has designed a powerful and efficient system to assist California tenants struggling with landlord-tenant issues including the return of security deposits, landlord intrusions, illegal evictions, retaliatory actions and unsafe living conditions. Our expert legal advice has helped California tenants receive over $35 million in retained security deposits and damage awards since 1990. Our law firm offers full representation for tenants involved in landlord-tenant disputes. We firmly believe that it is unnecessary in 90 percent of cases for a tenant to retain an attorney when legal guidance and information can help obtain a settlement with an unreasonable landlord. Our professional legal team offers a one-hour comprehensive consultation designed to provide struggling tenants with the necessary information and skills with which to prevail in a landlord-tenant action.
Our one-hour consultation includes a step-by-step information packet containing helpful tips on how to institute legal action against your landlord in California. The packet includes valuable information pertaining to California land lord-tenant laws, including:
- Tenant rights.
- Methods by which to determine if your tenant rights have been violated.
- Steps to assist you in filing a lawsuit against your landlord.
- Mediation and arbitration alternatives.
- An assessment of monetary damages available for specific breaches of tenant rights.
- An overview of landlord-tenant court proceedings.
Please contact the Castelblanco Law Group to schedule your one-hour consultation and receive our landlord-tenant information packet.