What is the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?

Written on May 7, 2015 by , updated on May 8, 2015

Implied Covenant of Quiet EnjoymentAt the core of every modern residential rental agreement, there is the “Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment”.

What is an Implied Covenant?

An “implied covenant” is a foundational concept built into every rental agreement, whether written or verbal, that gives the tenant certain rights.

The reason it is “implied” is because it doesn’t specifically have to be mentioned in the lease, and as far as I know, a landlord can’t force a tenant to waive this covenant.

What is “Quiet Enjoyment”?

“Quiet enjoyment” is one of two basic entitlements or covenants (the other being habitability) that the tenant is buying with his or her monthly rent.

The term is difficult to define because each situation is different and everyone has a varying opinion on what “quiet” and “enjoyment” mean.

According to Nolo, this covenant (or promise) means that the landlord will not do anything to disturb the tenants’ rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space—and that the landlord will act in a way that allows for peaceful use.

Essentially, it is the tenant’s right to reasonably occupy the dwelling peacefully, and without recurring disruption.

With every lease, a tenant gets the following rights:

  1. Privacy: A reasonable expectation of privacy;
  2. Peace & Quiet: Including the freedom from unreasonable and recurring disturbances from the landlord and/or other neighbors;
  3. Right of Use: Exclusive right of use, except for landlord’s reasonable right of access;
  4. Safety & Security: A premise & dwelling that provide adequate security and are free of bodily hazards;
  5. Basic Utilities: Access to basic services such as electricity, heat and hot water, which are also part of the implied warranty of habitability.

With that said, it doesn’t supersede a landlord’s right to enter the property with proper notice or in emergencies, conduct showings, or make repairs in a reasonable manner.

Related: Landlord-Tenant State Laws and Regulations

Noises, Disturbances and Nuisances

new-york-times-sq“Quiet enjoyment” generally applies to anything that creates a legitimate nuisance.

In most cases, it is only relative to the tenant’s ability to access and enjoy the premise.

Further, it certainly doesn’t guarantee “silence” as the word “quiet” would suggest. If that were the case, every rental in New York City would be in violation of this basic covenant.

To some, the sound of distant crickets is too overwhelming, while others will not even hear the sound of a freight train barreling past the house.

The term is subjective, not clearly defined in any law that I’ve seen (though I’m not a legal expert or lawyer) and it is certainly not restricted to audible noises.

A Good Rule of Thumb

The best way to figure out the severity of the disturbance is to ask yourself:

Would    X    prevent an average resident from reasonably accessing and enjoying the rental?

If the answer is “yes”, then you should probably do something about it. At the very least, attempt to remedy the situation.

A True Story

Violating this Covenant

Similarly to the warranty of habitability, if the covenant of quiet enjoyment is continually or unreasonably broken by the landlord, manager, or owner’s agents, then the tenant can be relieved of his/her obligation to pay rent. Further, they could even terminate the lease.

That’s right, a tenant can terminate the lease!

In fact, this is the most basic concept in the landlord-tenant relationship: the tenant pays rent in return for a safe, habitable dwelling that he/she can enjoy.

Common Violations

A landlord or manager can be in violation of this covenant if he or she either creates or doesn’t remedy a legitimate issue. Lets examine some common violations to the covenant of quiet enjoyment:

Landlord or Agent:

  • Enters the unit too frequently or without proper notice;
  • Snoops through personal property;
  • Fails to control disruptive nuisances, noises or behaviors, within reason;
  • Harasses a resident in person or over the phone;
  • Restricts or terminates essential services, such as water or electricity;
  • Fails to repair items that affect habitability or items that were promised in the lease;
  • Prohibits reasonable enjoyment of the property, such as entertaining guests.


Your tenant is not allowed to infringe on the neighbor’s right to quiet enjoyment. Since you don’t have a lease with the neighbor, this disturbance is simply called a nuisance and though not covered under this covenant, it could be a lease violation.

A neighbor could call the police and file a nuisance complaint, and if enough complaints are filed, the city/county may  the landlord for the disturbances.

Your tenant, like every other citizen, it obligated to follow civil laws and noise ordinances.

Real Life Situations

Loud parties happening next door, every weekend, way too late into the night.
Large dinner parties that end at 11pm.
Smoke Inside
Second-hand smoke entering the unit from the walls, floors, and outlets because the neighbor is smoking.
Smoke Outside
The neighbor smoking on his balcony, and the smoke stays outside.
Loss of Parking
Other cars parked in the tenant's dedicated parking spaces.
First Come, First Served Parking
Not enough spots in the lot for all tenants.
Landlord legitimately harasses a resident in person, over the phone, or performs drive-by's regularly.
Asking for Rent
Asking for overdue rent, multiple times in a week.
Extreme Wildlife
Failing to keep the wildlife under control, such as bears, loud frogs, and raccoons.
Common Wildlife
The existence of small seasonal wildlife, rabbits, crickets, birds, etc.
The neighbors above are teaching their kids to wrestle in the evening or late at night.
The neighbors above, simply walking around their apartment, at any time.
Noisy Pets
Dogs barking next door, all... day... long.
Normal Pets
The occasional bark
Unattended Alarms
A neighbor who goes on vacation and their smoke alarm goes off for 3 days straight.
Occasional Alarms
The neighbor who's smoke alarm go off every time she cooks, but she quickly turns it off.
Unattended Repairs
A ceiling that just won't stop dripping water. Tenant constantly has to clean it up.
Cosmetic Repairs
Any cosmetic issues, such as a water stain on the ceiling from a previous drip that has since been fixed.
Ongoing Improvements
Major improvements that don't really need to happen while a tenant is living there. For example, adding a 1,000 sq. ft. addition, just because.
One-time Improvements
1-2 day fixed that require heavy machinery and/or the disconnection of utility service

Related Reading:

photo credit: IMG_4473 via (license)

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71 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Lauren

    I am full time in the Air National guard. I went on active duty orders for 105 days after I signed the lease but am now off of them with 6 months left on my 12 month lease. I love my roommate but our work schedule is opposite so she wakes me up just about every night because our walls are so thin, even when she is trying to be quiet. It is effecting my work. Also just lost a close friend/coworker to suicide and that is effecting everything I do and also my sleep. There is also a terrible spider problem in our unit and the floors are uneven. I really want to break my lease and rent somewhere by myself so I can be happy again and my roommate does too. Is there any way I can get out of this one?

  • Amy

    My neighbors have been shooting guns and now arrows at my property, livestock and their landlord will not do anything about it. Can I sue the landlord because his tenants are a nuisance/ safety issue for myself, kids and livestock. This has been going on for at least 5 years.

  • cris

    I am a new landlord and have tenants that verbally abuse each other. It is making other tenants complain I have filed for 30 day notice and will give 3 day. meanwhile everyone has to listen to this terrible noise and as a landlord I have found nothing beyond that I can do. Police have been called and fighting has started between tenants. There seems like beyond notices there is not much a landlord can do to help other tenants but wait it out for eviction.

  • Jason

    Hi Lucas, hope you can help. My downstairs neighbor plays his home theatre system loud and it shakes my floors and wall. I’ve called the police a few times so far and my property management company is helping to resolve the issue. Now my neighbors are hostile and run their noisy ceiling fan all day knowing it sounds like a machine shop in my bedroom. I’ve bought them a new ceiling fan and offered to have it installed but they refused. Now when I have a issue with their loud tv or music, they retaliate by leaving their noisy fan on. I live in a 2 bdrm and now sleep on the couch in the living room. The noise is so loud it can be heard through my pillow on my couch.The owner of their apt is different then mine. Can I file a nuisance complaint?

  • Deb

    Landlord says other tenants complained of “cat” smell from apartment. Landlord took tenant to Court for eviction but agreed that if carpets were professionally cleaned eviction would not be pursued.Cats have been removed and carpets have been professionally cleaned (with guarantee of smell removal). Now, landlord is coming in every other week (with 24 hour notice although sometimes they don’t show up until days after the 24 hours has expired) to inspect. Each time, they find something to complain about…a few dishes in the sink, some clothes on the floor in the bathroom. This unit is occupied by two early 20’s brothers. Landlord calls parents of tenants to complain about the “mess” and emails pictures. Violation of quiet enjoyment?

  • Brad Wolpert

    I just moved into a downstairs apartment 3 weeks ago in Tampa, Florida. I can hear every footstep of the neighbors above me and the floor creaks. I hear shutting doors and dogs barking as well. I told the office I want to move to an upstairs apartment and they told me I have to stay in this one for 90 days and there will be a $500 transfer fee. This is unacceptable. They have upstairs vacancies and I want to move ASAP. Is there anything I can do?

    Thank you!


  • Alice

    In September, my landlord demolished and has since been renovating one of the bathrooms in his unit which is above mine. He is doing it because his partner wanted a new bathroom. In addition to the noise, he has put down cardboard to “protect” the hall steps which is pretty unsightly and frequently his contractor uses the front yard for his table saw, etc and uses the front entrance to the building for taking sheet rock etc up.

    Is this a violation of the covenant of peaceful enjoyment?

  • Laura

    Can I get some references to legal documents stating this information? That would be handy, thanks!

    • terry

      i am no longer in a lease, ive told the landlady over 4 times about the person below me who blast his music and he still does it , what can i do about it.

  • Amy

    The tenants next door are the ones who don’t understand the quiet enjoyment thing. They aren’t the noisiest group, but are pretty consistent pot smokers and it is not legal in VA. If you call the cops on them, A) they have cameras to see Officer Friendly coming to the door & B) they smoke heavier after the cops leave. The smoke comes through the common townhouse wall (which was probably damaged in some invisible way from the earthquake). Can they be evicted for repeated LEO visits? Any other ways to deal with them (sides an air cleaner)?

  • Julie

    We pay a quite high rent for a single family home. When we signed the lease, we were told there was a lawn service. They have been there weekly, but today the property owner showed up at 11am and said he wanted to lose weight, so laid the crew off for the summer. He has been here for over 6 hours mowing the lawn, and his wife even brought him lunch to eat on the patio.

    I have 3 college daughters who feel trapped in the house. Is this a violation

  • Crystal

    I live in on the first floor of a large apartment complex with two stories in each building. The complex management is renovating apartments as tenants move out, not evacuating a whole section at a time. The tenants above me moved out and they are renovating above my head, 7 days a week. I work at home and hear this everyday. They say they are working only during business hours, but so what. They are letting me out of my lease, but it takes time to find a decent place within budget. I know they have and are breaching my reasonable expectation to quiet enjoyment, but can I also withhold rent even though I have made it known I am moving asap?

  • cameron

    Quiet Enjoyment question. My landlord has time and again disregarded my request they don’t not enter my apartment to make minor repair when my son is home alone. Recently they failed to give me 24 hour notice of a minor repair and tried to pressure me into getting the work. my son is a high function autistic teen so i denied them entry on a short notice. not only did that enter my apartment the next day they changed my locks with out letting me know ahead of time. When i came home to check on my son i could not enter the unit and the manager was closed for the day. needless to the this has had a effect my sons emotion stability after a stranger entering the apartment. do i have any recourse ?

  • Bryan Boettcher

    Is the fact that the apartment that I am renting was not built on a foundation and because of that I’m beginning to have uneven floors a good argument for why my rent should be lowered?

  • Judith Pecho

    Persistent loss of property when am away from the house. Evidence someone has been in the house when I sleep. Since moving here my expensive mattress has been replaced with an old inferior one with a hole and stains on it and springs under it. I had no springs. Landlord acts unsurprised, shrugs his shoulders, little eye contact. Thefts keep occurring. I noticed boxes in garage that had not been unpacked by me were rearranged, many opened with empty spaces. I prepared for retirement and stocked up on new quality and memorable things, His responses about changing keys and garage door openers inconsistent. Hurricane Irma he called next a.m.to see if I at shelter. Told him it would be late to check out the dogs. Home many treasures gone.

  • Elizabeth Hawkins

    Hello! I have really enjoyed reading this article and your responses to questions. Today, my boyfriend came home early, upset that the landlord had called him regarding complaints. Apparently, the tenant across from us, who lives above the carports, says his car is too loud and the exhaust is bothering him. Another comp!aint was from a downstairs neighbor who says I have “homeless” people come over. He assumes this because my friend rides a bicycle. What can I do to help my neighbors understand their complaints are ridiculous?

  • cindy lee

    the landlord where i stay comes in our unit all the time, sprays a canopy in the back yard with water during the cold months, turns a heater on in the storage unit next to ours during summer months up to 150degrees, throws our personal property away, lies to owner and other tenants about me so that they all ar suspicious and watch my every move, has people follow me so he knows where im at at all times, has the gardeners blow all the waste from the property at my unit and into our backyard, has had his people vandalize and pop tires on the car, he also didnt do anything about a neighbor who was harassing me and is still making false comments to all neighbors about me. etc, etc,etc. this is in livermore, ca.

  • juli

    Quiet Enjoymen’ & Habitability concern. I signed a lease year leasesight unseen. few days before I moved in the landlord let me walkthru. heard a very loud rumbling noise from the HVAC which is bolted to the frame of the building and vibrated entire apt. I walked into my bedroom & the noise was even worse..then I walk into the walk-in closet & BAM. it was miserable! vibrations from the HVAC cause a frequency/buffeting noise like when you roll down the windows of your car. unbearable. they promised to repair before I moved in & made one small adjustment that helped a LITTLE. 6 months later the vibration is still there but worse now & causing anxiety, stress, muscle pain, sleeplessness, etc. landlord told me nothing more can be done-help!

  • Bryan Hengst

    Hi Lucas, earlier this week there was a few people from the property management office came by to do a inspection, they said for insurance (no notice was given). I wasn’t home, so they let themselves inside the residence and set off my alarm system, dispatching police units to my residence. (all caught on Ring) Not only did I have to leave work to deal with this issue, but I was told I may receive a fine for the false alarm. After I addresses it with the office (not the first time) and sent a text/email to the owner informing him never to send anyone into my unit without my knowledge, I received no reply. violation of quite enjoyment? any advise moving forward? Thank you.

  • Denise Hansen Miller

    My issue is that my rental agreement says nothing about plants on a small patio in front of my unit. I need to cross it to get to my front door and had a potted tree and some small plants on the patio. The landlord was doing some renovations re planting and I was told by the workers that my plants could just be kept in the corner of the patio. When I came home, my plants had been moved into a central walk area in the hot sun and one was missing. It was later found on someone else’s patio and was dead. My question is when I rent the apartment is the patio part of my rental so that I have rights for them not to touch my property without notifying me . No one treats their patios as a common area. Those are separate.

  • Helen Campbell

    Assigned parking is not enforced in my community. I have been assigned no fewer than 8 different parking spots in the 2 years I have been in my complex. I’ll come home and someone else is parked in my spot for days on end. I’ve asked the landlord to address and she just re-assigns me to a different spot. An added layer of problem is that the unmarked curbs are ‘no-overnight’ parking per our borough’s rules. There are many cars that never even move from their spots. I don’t know what to do anymore. In August, the landlord basically told me to shut up and park in #X spot, but now there’s been a car there since last week. I’m at my wit’s end and she’s making me out to be the problem and all I want is a spot to call my own.

  • Susan Parker

    We own a 2 BR condo & have renters next to us in a 2 BR condo. There are 9 people living there, that I know for sure, maybe more. We’ve lived here for 15 years without any complaints about previous neighbors. The new neighbors go up & down the stairs all day & night. Sometimes their small children play on them, jumping up & down for hours. The noise is like someone banging boom, boom, boom on the wall. It wakes us up at all hours & we can’t hear the television without turning up the volume loud. We’ve complained to their landLord but apparently it did no good because it’s still happening. We are at our wits end!! What can we do to resolve this problem?

  • B. TenEyck

    I live in City Scape, a high rise apt in downtown Phoenix. They’re building a twin high rise next door. Every morning at 3am I am woken by flood lights and excessive noise. The apt manager suggest I use ear plugs. Who’s going to wake me for work? I’m paying a high rent to live here and can’t get a decent night sleep.
    They say there are no comparable apts to mine. Only ones available are more money. Shouldn’t they give me a deal or let me out of my lease?

  • Patricia

    My husband and I hand to find a place to live on short notice and were desperate since our credit was very poor at the time. That was almost two years ago now, this has always been a noisy place . The manager (was only assistant manager for the first year) somehow made the position of manager when a new company bought the property. She lives across the way from us in another apartment and we hear her arguing with people and partying drunkenly with people until past midnight. I can hear her with our windows shut, but unfortunately we have to keep them open as much as possible (via her advice) to keep it cold so the roach infestation isn’t as bad IN our apartment. What should we do?

  • Jerome & Heidi

    We live in a place that my cousin owns. There is no smoking in the building and no drugs allowed. When we first moved in, it was nice to live here.
    Now we have all kinds of people who live upstairs, bringing all kinds of people into this place all night long.
    Jerome is on dialysis and we get kept up out of our sleep from 10pm til 4am with hammering for a month and a half already, drilling and heavy stomping of feet above us.
    Plus these people smoke cigarettes and also smoke marijuana in the building and they say they dont care about anything or who owns this building. They say they will do whatever they want.
    Well, I will make sure that my cousin gets reprimanded for not keeping the law of covenant of quiet enjoyment in tact.

  • Dennis J Teel

    I’m 64 years old and I’m a night person.All night.I sleep days from 9am to 5pm.I have been walking my dog every night on the property anywhere between 1am and 5am when he has to go potty.I never bother anyone and am quiet.Last week a new manager came on board and within three days of her new job she told me i cannot walk my dog on the property because i am scaring other tenants and then told me that walking my dog that late is suspicious to begin with and made it clear how abnormal she thinks it is. It was then added that i have been seen standing on tenents patios.I know i’m being harassed but can’t prove it.Should i call corporate? I’ve lived here for 9 years and have walkd my dog every night at the same time since i moved in.

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