Tenants obtain certain rights once they sign a lease or rental agreement. Among these rights is the right to privacy, which is contained in the statute of Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
Whether contained in the lease or not, this statute is a fundamental right granted to every tenant across the country. Basically, the statute of Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment guarantees a tenant the right to live in their premises in peace and quiet without unnecessary interruptions.
This is everything you need to know about the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
What is an Implied Covenant?
Typically, landlords require their tenants to sign a lease or a rental agreement prior to moving in. A lease specifies what rights and obligations each party has.
An Implied Covenant, on the other hand, isn’t specifically stated in a lease or rental agreement. Instead, the agreement is simply implied. It exists regardless of whether it’s mentioned in the lease or not.
What is Quiet Enjoyment?
From a legal perspective, Quiet Enjoyment gives a tenant the undisturbed or unimpaired right to the use of their rented premises. The legal right to Quiet Enjoyment is protected through what is known as the “covenant of quiet enjoyment.”
What Basic Tenant Rights Does the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment Protect?
As previously mentioned, the covenant of quiet enjoyment helps protect tenants from unnecessary disturbance from their landlords, or a person acting on the landlord’s behalf. This isn’t, however, to mean that you’ve promised to prevent all forms of disturbance to your tenant.
The only time the covenant steps in is when the noise disturbance grows to a level where the tenant becomes unable to use their premises normally. In such a case, you may need to step in as a landlord to resolve the issue.
Broadly speaking, the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment guarantees a tenant five basic rights. That is, the right to:
- Live in privacy
– Simply put, your tenant has a right to be left alone. The covenant protects a tenant’s privacy from a landlord who may want to barge in without permission.
- Live in peace and quiet
– As a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure your tenant enjoys their rented premises in peace and quiet. You must resolve all issues that hamper this like talking to a neighbor who plays loud music or throws a lot of large, noisy parties.
- Live without being discriminated upon on the basis of their class
– Your tenant has a right to live in whatever manner they like, as long as they don’t violate anything agreed upon in their lease. Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords have a responsibility to treat both prospective and current tenants respectfully and equally regardless of their class. Protected characteristics in California include race, religion, color, ancestry, disability, sex, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, and national origin.
- Live in a safe and secure home
– Your property must also be reasonably safe for your tenant. You also have a responsibility to disclose to your tenant any hazard that may violate their health or safety.
- Be provided basic utilities
– The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment also protects a tenant’s right to basic utilities. Basic utilities include heat, electricity, water, and internet connectivity. If you fail to provide any one of these, your tenant may have a right to break their lease without further responsibility.
What Does Landlord’s Right of Entry Mean?
Even though you own the rental property your tenant lives in, you don’t have a right to enter the place whenever you want. Under California Civil Code Section 1954, landlords can only enter an occupied rental property in only certain situations. That is:
- To show the apartment to prospective tenants
- In the event of abandonment
- In case of an emergency
- To do repairs or improvements
These are the only four instances in which you’re allowed to enter your tenant’s premises in California. You must also provide your tenant a reasonable notice prior to entering. The law presumes 24 hours to be reasonable.
What are Some Common Violations to the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
Below are some common violations of the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
- Entering your tenant’s rented premises without notifying them first
- Going through your tenant’s property
- Failing to prevent or fix nuisances that violate the tenant’s peace and quiet
- Harassing your tenant either through the phone or in person.
- Not providing essential services that the lease or rental agreement promised
- Failing to repair things that impact the habitability of the property
- Prohibiting your tenant from enjoying their rented premises, like entertaining guests
What Happens If You Violate the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
As you can see, there are multiple ways in which the covenant of quiet enjoyment can be violated. Typically, in such scenarios, you’ll have an opportunity to fix the violations. A good landlord-tenant relationship is the key to knowing about these problems quickly and finding a way to fix it with your tenant’s input.
As a landlord, it’s important to act quickly once your tenant has notified you of an issue that violates their right to privacy. Generally, you’ll have a period of 30 days to fix the violation.
If you don’t act within the stipulated period, your tenant may have several legal options to pursue.
For one, they can choose to sue you for failure to honor your contractual responsibilities or for the costs of relocating to another property if they choose to break their lease.
Can Tenants Violate the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
A tenant can also violate the covenant of quiet enjoyment. For example, if they have a loud animal, play loud music, or interfere with other tenants. In such cases, you’ll have a right to address the situation, including evicting the tenant.
As a landlord, you have a slew of legal responsibilities under the California landlord-tenant act. The Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment is one of them. If you are just getting started or need expert help, get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company like East Bay Property Management! We’ll help you know exactly how to handle these situations and exactly how to prevent them.