What is the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?

Are you trying to make sense of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment?

Tenants have basic rights that landlords have to respect at all times. These are fully incorporated into the structure of modern lease agreements.

However, as a first-time landlord, you may find certain legal concepts confusing. One of these terms is the “implied covenant of quiet enjoyment”.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a closer look at this important legal term. You’ll learn all about its effects on rental property management.

The Starting Point: Implied Covenants

The first thing we have to make sense of is the term “implied covenant.” This is a legal concept that shows that the agreement between the contract parties carries distinct legal expectations.

Implied covenants are parts of contracts that do not need to be outlined specifically.

Why aren’t these expectations clearly stated in the contract? The responsibilities tied to the implied covenant do not have to be described in detail. This is an approach most used in many types of rental agreements.

The rights given to tenants via implied covenants constitute a foundational part of any rental agreement. It doesn’t matter whether the contract is verbal or written.

These are inalienable rights that do not have to be spelled out because landlords are forbidden from forcing a tenant to waive them.

Tenants’ Right to Quiet Enjoyment of the Rental Unit

The “quiet enjoyment” in this particular implied covenant refers to the right that a tenant can enjoy peace, quiet, and privacy in their rental home. Failure to provide these basic rights is a lease violation.

Some landlords want to specifically outline what “quiet enjoyment” means in their lease agreements. That’s not the correct approach.

The term may mean a lot of things to different people. Preserving it in the form of an umbrella term is a better way of handling it.

Quiet enjoyment means that tenants can do whatever they want inside the rental home. They only have to make sure that their behavior is legal and doesn’t breach the lease agreement terms.

Violation of the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

Landlords must take great care not to violate this principle. Whenever a serious violation takes place, a renter can take action by breaking the lease or withholding rent payments.

A single instance of mild nuisance may fail to justify breaking the lease.

An occasional nuisance is not a cause for a violation of quiet enjoyment.

It’s always a good idea to consult a legal expert in these scenarios. Recurring nuisances are more than likely to give the tenant a right to take action.

It is possible for both tenants and landlords to violate the implied covenant. For example, if you have a multi-unit rental property, one of your renters can violate the right to quiet enjoyment of other tenants.

Then, you'll need to solve the situation and explain it to both sides of the conflict.

Most of the time, the violations spring from the actions (or inactions) on the landlord’s part.

Here is a list of the most common types of issues that tenants can encounter and can take action against.

  • Illegal Entry: As a landlord, you always have to give adequate notice to your tenants before entering the rental property. And even if you give enough notice, you can’t overstep the requirement of having reasonable purposes to enter the premises. Weekly inspections to “just check on things” may be considered harassment.

  • Service Restrictions: The basic utilities must not be restricted in any manner. The basic services that you can’t manipulate are things like electricity, A/C, heating, and access to water. In a similar fashion, you can never restrict the tenant’s entrance to the property.

  • Failure to Solve Noise Complaints: Have your tenants complained about disruptions regarding noise or similar issues? Take care of these problems at the earliest reasonable opportunity. Postponing your response or ignoring the problem altogether could be considered as landlord negligence.

  • Harassment or Spying: Under no circumstances can landlords harass or spy on their tenants. This is considered a serious breach of renters’ right to privacy. In some forms, spying can lead to further legal charges.

  • Loss of Parking Space: If you are restricting your tenant’s parking space that is originally dedicated to them, it can be a violation of the covenant. The exception here is parking that is based on the principle of “First Come, First Served”.

  • Restricting Dinner Parties: Forbidding loud, rowdy parties is reasonable. But restricting the hosting of larger dinner parties with guests leaving before 11 pm isn’t a covenant violation.

What about Smoking?

The important keywords here are environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and secondhand smoke (SHS). If these types of smoke enter the tenant’s rental, then it’s possible that the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment is violated.

Landlords may not restrict tenants from smoking on their private outdoor spaces.

The argument is simple: smoke inside your home can lead to health problems for tenants, their guests, and even pets.

All of that smoke could start affecting the personal belongings of the tenants as well.

Since smoking could negatively impact the good condition of the rental property, this problem has to be addressed as soon as possible. But there is an important exception here.

If someone is smoking outdoors in their private space, there isn’t anything you can do about it. That person has the right to smoke there.

The Bottom Line

The implied covenant of quiet enjoyment reflects a tenant’s right to peace and quiet in their home. The personal privacy of the tenants is protected under this covenant as well.

The rights of implied covenants are inalienable.

While it’s a pretty straightforward concept, disputes often surround this topic.

Similar to normal wear and tear, certain gray areas may exist within the practical use of this lease agreement clause.

That’s why it pays to learn all about this legal concept and refer back to its basic principles whenever you encounter a relevant situation in your life as a rental owner.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed by the legal terminology and want to ensure confidence in your lease agreements, you should consider reaching out to a professional property management company for help.

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