If you are a tenant of a rental property, then you will want to have peace of mind knowing that you will be able to enjoy the entire premises without the disturbance from others. This is the basis of the covenant of quiet enjoyment and we will be going over it in detail in this article so that you have all the knowledge necessary on Covenant Quiet Enjoyment

One of the most frustrating and annoying things as a tenant is being constantly disturbed by noisy outside sources, this makes the whole living condition not so ideal and some tenants may even consider ending their lease/rental agreement if the situation gets too out of hand. Especially with everything going on in the world right now and with everybody stuck at home, your home needs to be a place of peace and quiet with very little disturbances from outside influences.

Covenant Quiet Enjoyment

The definition of covenant of quiet enjoyment is a covenant that promises that the grantee or tenant of an estate in real property will be able to possess the premises in peace, without disturbance by hostile claimants. Quiet enjoyment is a right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of real property by a tenant or landowner.

The covenant quiet enjoyment is a term that is built into the lease/rental agreement and there are a few very important things to consider when looking at this term that is important for both the landlord and the tenant to understand. Let’s go over some of these important factors regarding the covenant quiet enjoyment now.

Defining The Covenant Quiet Enjoyment

In the lease agreement that is signed by the tenant the landlord is outlining and stating that the tenant will have a home that is peaceful and undisturbed as well as many other factors which we will go into. Often this covenant is hard to define as the term “enjoyment” is pretty subjective and could mean a handful of things. Some of these things include:

  • Tenants may refuse entry from their units
  • Tenants need to have basic utilities, including clean water and heat
  • Landlords must perform proper maintenance on units
  • Tenants have the right to a clean property

When we speak about the covenant of quiet enjoyment, this term is also often paired with the warranty of habituality which states that the tenant is guaranteed to have a home that is in top condition throughout the duration of their lease term. If the property is not maintained in top condition then the tenant has every legal right to take legal action against the landlord for not providing a suitable living space and they will be able to fight their case in court.

This is why as a landlord you need to make sure that your monthly rent price is high enough for you to facilitate all the required maintenance and any repairs that need to be made to the unit of property. Keeping the rent price within a good limit but also high enough to offset any unforeseen costs will save you a lot of headache and frustration in the future from your tenants.

If a landlord refuses to make the necessary repairs and maintenance on the property/properties then they might find that they frequently experience a loss of tenants and then their rental properties remain vacant for significant periods of time while a new tenant is being sourced. This is not the most ideal situation to be in as a landlord so you always want to make sure that your property unit is in good living condition with no issues so that you don’t run into these kinds of problems.

Covenant Quiet Enjoyment

Implied Covenant

In most rental agreements, the lease outlines the covenant of quiet enjoyment. It serves to protect and guarantee a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment and peaceful habitation of the property. 

However, this covenant may be implied. It doesn’t have to be explicitly written out in the lease to be legally binding as a landlord-tenant agreement. 

The covenant of quiet enjoyment may not be waived in residential real estate contracts. However, with commercial leases, the tenant enjoyment clause may be negotiated prior to signing the lease agreement.

A covenant of quiet enjoyment may be included in an exchange, or conveyance, of land ownership at the option of the parties to the deed. Quiet enjoyment has a slightly different scope in the context of land ownership than it has in the context of a tenancy. When a seller gives a deed to the land to another party, the seller no longer has control over the property. The covenant of quiet enjoyment, when contained in a deed to real estate, warrants that the title to the land is clear, meaning that it has no encumbrances, or claims against it by other persons. A warranty deed includes a covenant of quiet enjoyment. By contrast, a quitclaim deed makes no warranties regarding the title and contains no covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Breaching The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

This is a very sensitive subject and it is hard to define what exactly constitutes a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, as it will be a different situation for every individual person. Some people may be fine with certain circumstances while others will not enjoy it as much, that is why it is kind of hard to define but we will go over what are some things that might be considered a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

We know that from various different court cases that things such as smoke alarms that are constantly ringing or illegal activities performed by neighbors could all constitute things that will breach this covenant term. Here are a few things that might be considered a breach:

Privacy concerns

As a tenant you want to make sure that your privacy is being respected at all times. It is absolutely not acceptable for a landlord to, for example, open up and read a tenant’s private mail or enter their premises all the time without their permission. Also things like unpermitted surveillance of a tenant are all things that would be considered a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Privacy should be taken very seriously by both the landlord and the tenant and this could be the number one factor for breaching this covenant and is a very important one to take note of.

Basic Services Not Being Met

Let’s say for example that a landlord is responsible and required to pay all the rental unit’s utility bills each month and then they fail to do so and the utilities are then shut off. This can be considered a breach of the covenant and a tenant can take action against the landlord in this situation. This will also include any common areas of the rental property as well like having working bathrooms and clean running water at all times throughout the month.

Restrictions That Are Unreasonable 

A tenant should be able to enjoy their leased premises. That could mean hosting others for a period of time. It can also mean using the apartment in a way that they see fit, as long as it doesn’t violate the lease. If a landlord unreasonably restricts this use, they may have breached a tenant’s quiet enjoyment.

Are Landlords Covered?

When a landlord receives a complaint about the breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment and the cause of the complaint that is made by the tenant is out of the control of the landlord then in this situation the landlord is covered. 

When a complaint is made against the landlord by the tenant the problem needs to be in the control of the landlord and they need to be able to rectify the issue if it is within their control. For example, if a landlord constantly receives complaints by one of their tenants about noisy neighbors then the landlord may choose to evict those noisy neighbors, but the landlord needs to own the property that the noisy neighbors are occupying for them to resolve the issue. 

If there are noisy neighbours and the landlord has no control over this, meaning that they do not own the property that the noisy neighbors are living in, then it is out of the control of the landlord and will no longer be considered a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. As the landlord has very little control over the situation.

In the situations where the landlord has no control over the situation such as noisy neighbours then it would probably be in the best interest of the party filing the complaint to get the authorities involved to try and rectify the ongoing problem. This often works well because if a noisy neighbor receives a heavy fine from the police then they are unlikely to continue disturbing the other neighbors with their noisy behavior.

Covenant Quiet Enjoyment

Action To Be Taken When The Covenant Is Broken

When this covenant is broken it is often in the best interest of both the tenant and the landlord to take lesser action first before deciding to take extreme action like taking the matter to the courts. Some of these lesser actions include:

Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment Letter

A covenant of quiet enjoyment letter is a letter that a tenant or landlord sends to a landlord or property management company. Its purpose is to formally acknowledge that the covenant of quiet enjoyment has been broken. 

This letter should describe the major issues that you are facing. It should also outline how it has negatively affected your living situation. Provide as much detail as possible and don’t leave anything out.

Landlords should work to respond to a covenant of quiet enjoyment letter promptly. That’s because any written response will serve as evidence that they have been made aware of the problem. From that point on, they’re responsible for addressing it. 

A reply should contain information about the steps the landlord will take to resolve the problem. It should also include a time frame for the solution.

Stopped Rent Payments

Depending on your state or municipality laws, tenants may be legally allowed to stop paying rent in the event that the covenant of quiet enjoyment has been broken. However, tenants should be sure to check these laws prior to making the decision to withhold rent payments. Consider consulting a lawyer. They’ll give you legal advice regarding your options. We want to emphasize that we are not giving out legal advice in this article and you should always consult your lawyer before taking any action or filing any complaints. We are in no way help liable for the actions that you take after reading through this article.

Conclusion

This article aimed to provide you with all the necessary knowledge that you need to know on this particular subject matter. For landlords and tenants to not run into any long term problems regarding the covenant of quiet enjoyment it is vital that both parties have a good understanding of all the things that are involved with it before they sign or agree to any lease/rental agreements. 

Doing this will ensure that unnecessary legal action will not be taken and this will save both the landlord and the tenant a lot of frustration and headache in the future and keep their relationship a solid one.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. 

We hope that all your questions regarding the covenant of quiet enjoyment were answered, if you have any further questions or concerns then feel free to get in contact with us. With many years of experience in the field we would be more than happy to help you out with any questions that you might have. We aim to get back to everyone as soon as possible. You can also browse or search the rest of our website if you are looking for any other information.