You know that peaceful feeling you get when you come home after a hard day or a long trip? It’s due in part to something known as the covenant of quiet enjoyment. It’s a legal term that basically means “the right to use and enjoy your apartment.”
It doesn’t always have a crystal-clear definition. That’s where landlords sometimes get into trouble. This article will explain why the covenant of quiet enjoyment matters for property managers.
People don’t talk about it much
The covenant of quiet enjoyment is not something that gets discussed very often. (Maybe you’ve never even heard of it.) After all, it goes without saying that a tenant should be able to live peacefully in their apartment.
The law doesn’t have to be in the lease for the tenant to make a case. Property managers could violate the law by blasting music all the time, entering the apartment without permission (for non-emergencies), using or occupying the tenant’s rental, cutting off or restricting utilities, etc.
It applies to residential and commercial properties
We already mentioned that most people think of this law as it applies to residences. People have a right to enjoy their home life. Business owners also have a right to use water, gas and electrical utilities without interruption. If there’s an issue, the property manager is responsible for resolving it in a timely manner. Commercial tenants are allowed to full run their business, and property managers can’t interfere under normal circumstances.
The covenant of quiet enjoyment exists even if it is not in a lease
As mentioned, landlords can be held accountable for violations even if there’s nothing about quiet enjoyment in the lease. This protects tenants from being taken advantage of by fake or harmful rules. Imagine you’re back in elementary school, playing basketball at recess. There was always that one kid who made up the most ridiculous rules as they went along.
“I can double-dribble if my opponent scores twice in a row without passing.” The worst.
Imagine if tenants had to deal with a petty landlord like that. That’s why the covenant of quiet enjoyment is always implied in a lease.
It’s up to the states
If a tenant brings their landlord to court over a quiet enjoyment violation, both sides could be in for a lengthy dispute (unless the lease is very clear). States handle this rule differently and arrive at different outcomes.
The problem is that landlords and tenants can also interpret this rule differently. Just because it’s implied does not mean it’s clear.
Confusing? You bet.
The solution: put everything in the lease
If you’re a property manager, deal with the covenant of quiet enjoyment during the lease signing. Your lease should define the tenant’s right to the following:
- Privacy: Tenants can expect privacy in their rented home or space
- Peace and quiet: Others (e.g., neighbors, the landlord) may not unreasonably disturb the tenant
- Right of use: No one else may enter the space without right of access or permission
- Safety and security: The unit does not pose any hazards or safety concerns to the renters
- Use of utilities: The dwelling offers all implied and expressed utilities
Use property management software to help
Yardi Breeze makes it easy to quickly add a covenant of quiet enjoyment to your leases. Send a one-page reference document to help tenants understand their lease. The better they understand their rights, the less likely you are to run into any problems.
Please note that this article does not constitute or replace legal advice. We hope this information is helpful, and we encourage you to do more research on the subject.