As a renter, there are certain rights to which you're entitled, and there are specific rules and regulations in place to protect these basic tenant rights. Some of these rights are defined through what's known as an “implied covenant" or “implied warranty," which means an agreement between two parties (in this case a tenant and a landlord) is inferred or implied to enforce a certain intention.
An implied warranty is built into every rental agreement and protects the basic rights of tenants. This “Implied Warranty of Quiet Enjoyment" means that tenants have the right to live in a space peacefully and free from recurring disruptions or disturbances, and landlords must support this right.
The concept of “quiet enjoyment" can be difficult to define because every situation is different, and this term can mean different things to different people.
Take for example those living on a busy city street. The sound of traffic outside may bother one tenant, but go completely unnoticed by another.
So, at what point does a disruption become an issue? Examples of persistent disturbances include things like:
Alternatively, acceptable or one-time disturbances that don't necessarily fall under the “implied warranty" include things like:
There are no federal laws currently surrounding a tenant's right to quiet enjoyment. However, all rental lease agreements should include language addressing it, even if only through an implied warranty or covenant. In most legal cases, courts will not waive a tenant's right to quiet enjoyment even if it's not specifically written in the rental agreement.
Tenants and landlords can refer to their state laws for specific information about the Implied Warranty of Quiet Enjoyment, including the legal or financial consequences that apply to failing to uphold the warranty. Specific rules and regulations, as well as penalties, will differ slightly from state to state.
For example, according to California Civil Code, landlords may be required to provide tenants with a full or partial refund of paid rent for the period during which the landlord was notified of a disruption of quiet enjoyment and failed to correct the situation.
As a tenant, you should always keep detailed records whenever you feel like any of your tenant rights have been violated. This same advice applies to the Implied Warranty of Quiet Enjoyment.
If you feel like your right to quiet enjoyment is being violated, take pictures, record video or even record sound if possible. Keep notes of the specific dates and times that the violations occurred. Keep in mind that issues like traffic noise or neighbor activity may be out of the control of your landlord. Inform your landlord of the regular disturbance to your right to quiet enjoyment and ask what will be done to resolve the situation, and when the issue will be addressed.
Your landlord should address the disturbance in a timely manner after you notify them. If the issue is not resolved, tell your landlord again that you feel your right to quiet enjoyment has been violated. It's advisable to draft an official notice that references your state law or rental agreement, and detail how you believe your right has been violated.
Research your local laws regarding noise disturbances, as you may be required to officially report a complaint or even call the police to report a problem before your landlord is required to take action. This is especially prevalent in issues regarding disruptive neighbors or excessively barking dogs.
Depending on your state laws, inform your landlord if you would like to break your lease, stop paying rent or receive a refund on rent as a result of the violation. It can be helpful to work with a local attorney familiar with landlord-tenant law to ensure you are handling the situation in the best way possible.
You have a right to peace and quiet in your home. When you familiarize yourself with some of these basic guidelines, you can work with your landlord to address any violations in a timely and professional manner.