What Is "Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment"? - Onsite Property Management Services
Being a first-time landlord can feel overwhelming, especially when you need to remember to follow all aspects of landlord-tenant law.
Whether expressed or implied, your tenants have certain rights under the lease or rental agreement. Among these rights is the right to live in privacy, or what is referred to as the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
Being a first-time landlord doesn't need to be a painful experience, and OnSite Property Management Services is here to help you! We've put together the following answers to commonly asked questions regarding the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment.
What is an Implied Covenant?
An implied covenant is a promise that’s not expressly stated in a contractual agreement. It’s simply assumed to be true by both or all parties entering the contract.
What is “Quiet Enjoyment”?
This is a promise to your tenants that you’ll let them live in the rented premises in peace, without unnecessary disturbance.
In every lease or rental agreement, tenants have the following fundamental rights:
- Peace & Quiet. You must provide your tenants with a property that guarantees them freedom from recurring and unreasonable disturbances.
- Safety & Security. Your tenant has a right to live in a home that guarantees their safety. That is, provides them with a reasonable level of safety from criminal intrusion. Under Colorado landlord-tenant law, landlords have a responsibility to provide a rental unit that meets certain safety codes.
- Privacy. Your tenant has a right to “reasonable peace, comfort, and privacy.” Breaching this right can have far-reaching consequences for landlords.
- Basic Utilities. The warranty of habitability guarantees tenants access to certain basic utilities. Examples of such utilities include electricity, water, and heat. If you fail to provide any of these, a court would probably rule that you have “constructively” evicted your tenant.
- Right of Use. Once your tenant signs the lease, they gain the exclusive right to the use of the property. Matter of fact, you’re required to provide proper notice prior to entry. The only exception to this is in case of emergencies or property abandonment.
What does “Landlord Entry” Mean?
Landlords, too, have certain rights under a lease or rental agreement. And one of these rights is the right to enter rented premises.
You may need to enter your tenant’s rented premises for any of the following reasons:
- To perform needed or requested repairs.
- To make improvements to the rental premises.
- Under court orders.
- To conduct inspections according to the terms of the lease or rental agreement.
- To show the unit to prospective tenants, buyers, or lenders.
- In cases where you have sufficient reasons to believe the tenant abandoned the unit.
You must notify your tenant before entering their rented units. As per Colorado landlord entry laws, you must give your tenant “reasonable notice.” The law makes the presumption that 24 hours is reasonable.
It also goes without saying that the entry times must be reasonable, as well. Generally, anywhere between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM is acceptable.
What can happen if you violate the covenant?
Repeated violations of the covenant of quiet enjoyment can attract several repercussions. Like the warranty of habitability, your tenant could exercise one of their fundamental rights.
To begin with, your tenant could choose to withhold further rent payments. This basically means the tenant stopping further rent payments until the landlord stops the violation.
Your tenant could also choose to move out without further obligations to the lease or rental agreement. So, if you repeatedly violate your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment, they would be considered “constructively evicted”.
What Constitutes a Disturbance or a Nuisance?
The covenant of quiet enjoyment applies to situations that create a legitimate nuisance or disturbance. In most cases, it is relative to the tenant’s ability to access and enjoy their rented premises.
The term “quiet” doesn’t exactly equate to “silence”. That’s because, if that was the case, then large metropolitan areas like New York would be in violation of this fundamental tenant-right.
In this case, the terms “noise” or “disturbance” are relative and subjective. For some people, the sound of a barreling train might not be something worth losing their sleepover. For others, chirps from crickets might be too overwhelming.
So, what exactly is a disturbance? Well, basically, it’s anything that may make the average tenant fail to enjoy or access their unit.
What actions can constitute a violation of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
A landlord may be in violation of the covenant of the tenant’s quiet enjoyment in two ways. One of the ways is if you are the source of the violation. And two is if you fail to correct a legitimate concern your tenant has raised.
The following are examples of common violations of the covenant:
- Entering your tenant’s unit without serving them proper notice. As already mentioned, Colorado landlords must provide their tenants with a notice of at least 24 hours prior to entry.
- Failing to take actions against people or situations causing the disturbance or nuisance within a reasonable period of time.
- Harassing or threatening a tenant over a phone call or in person.
- Terminating basic utilities that your tenant is entitled to. For example, electricity, heat, and water.
- Prohibiting the tenant from reasonably enjoying their rented premises. For instance, entertaining their guests.
Your Colorado tenant also has a responsibility to ensure they are a good neighbor. So, likewise, they must follow civil laws and noise ordinances by not infringing on their neighbor’s right to quiet enjoyment.
Are there disturbances that can be considered acceptable?
If they don’t happen repeatedly, below are acceptable disturbances that may not be in violation of the covenant.
- Making repeated calls to your tenant to inquire about late rent payments.
- Noise disturbance from wildlife, such as birds and crickets.
- Footsteps from the neighbor living upstairs.
- Carrying out regular inspections of the property.
The Bottom Line
Following the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment isn’t an option for landlords. If you still need more help, Onsite Property Management Services can help. Alternatively, consider hiring expert legal help from a qualified attorney.