Understanding the Right to Quiet Enjoyment

As a tenant, you have the right to quiet enjoyment of your rental unit. Even if this is not expressly stated in your lease agreement, this promise is implied in every Bay Area residential lease. Read on to learn exactly what the covenant of quiet enjoyment means for you as a tenant.

What is the Right to Quiet Enjoyment?

The covenant of quiet enjoyment gives the right to every tenant exclusive use and enjoyment of their rental, even when it comes to the owner. Put differently, this means that they are entitled to use and enjoyment of their entire rental unit without “substantial interference” from the landlord.

Repair Issues

One way to see how the covenant works is in the area of repairs. Suppose that your heat isn’t working in your unit. You give the landlord written notice of this fact and after some time passes, they still don’t get around to fixing it. This is an example where is there overlap between the right to quiet enjoyment and the warranty of habitability (another implied covenant that is in your lease), which ensures that the living space has livable conditions. Here, you aren’t able to use or enjoy your unit as intended until your landlord makes the necessary repairs. If it does indeed go beyond a “reasonable” time, then you could recover damages from your landlord for a refund of your rent for the time that you’ve lived in the unrepaired state.

Sometimes a landlord will enter your apartment under the guise of making repairs. In general, the landlord isn’t allowed to enter unless it’s under specific circumstances; making necessary repairs (or agreed upon repairs) is one of the circumstances that the law specifies. However, the landlord can’t just come in at any time and announce that they’re making repairs and instead they usually must give you “reasonable notice,” unless it’s an emergency repair. Reasonable notice is usually considered at least 24 hours.

If the landlord makes a habit of entering without a legal purpose or without proper notice, then the landlord is breaking the law. The action is not only trampling on your right to quiet enjoyment, but it may also be an indicator of other violations, such as harassment or an attempt to wrongfully evict.

Keep in mind that the landlord may only enter your unit under specific circumstances:

  • An emergency occurs that necessitates the landlord’s entry
  • The landlord has gotten a court order to enter
  • You have abandoned the unit, or you consent to the entry

They can enter with prior written notice under these conditions:

  • To conduct necessary repairs
  • To show the unit: to mortgagees, workers/contractors, or prospective tenants or purchasers
  • A tenant requested pre-move out walk through to inspect damage

Talk to an Attorney to Resolve Quiet Enjoyment Issues

Your right to quiet enjoyment is an important part of your tenants’ rights. If your landlord is violating this, you can notify them and ask that they stop. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then get in touch with a Wolford Wayne tenants’ rights attorney who can help you go over your options. Contact us immediately for help with next steps.