When renters decide to stay in your rental unit, there’s a level of quiet enjoyment expected. What is quiet enjoyment all about? Why is it a basic right conferred by the law? What’s an acceptable level of quiet enjoyment? While there are many landlord-tenant laws for Colorado, the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment can be particularly confusing for new landlords.
This guide will help you understand what is meant by the “implied covenant of quiet enjoyment” so that you can be better prepared when drafting your lease agreements.
What is Implied Covenant?
An implied covenant is a basic right of a renter that’s already granted without any verbal or written agreement. It’s not a subject for further negotiation nor can it be surrendered. Even if it’s not expressly mentioned in the signed lease, an implied covenant is valid and honored.
What is Quiet Enjoyment?
When a tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment, it means the tenant can enjoy living in peace. There are also no breaches to his privacy. Landlords are further inhibited from harassing or disturbing a tenant’s peaceful stay. Conversely, tenants are tasked to confer the same right to other tenants in the building. It’s also their duty to protect the privacy of their neighbors.
What’s the Landlord’s Liability?
A landlord can be held responsible for a breach in a tenant’s implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. The tenant can collect back a full or partial refund if staying in your rental property is causing discomfort due to noise and disturbance. It is one of the landlord’s obligations to see to it that noise, nuisance and disturbances are controlled or kept to a minimum.
The burden of proof rests on the renter. If sufficient evidence is available then this can provide a good defense for charging a landlord with damages.
Landlords can be guilty of too many property inspections with no notices. Another mistake would be spying and frequent noisy property improvements. Landlords have to fight being overly obsessive with rental property maintenance. They must refrain from subjecting a tenant to harassment with the constant disturbances in the premises.
What are the Tenant’s Rights?
Tenants have several rights they can exercise:
- The right to a habitable home
- The right to a reasonable level of privacy
- The right to access basic utilities
- The right to quiet enjoyment
- The right to safety and security
What about Noise?
Excessive noise can result in noise nuisance. Noise nuisance can greatly reduce a tenant’s quality of living. When your rental property often creates this kind of disturbance, it could be one of the leading reasons for high tenant turnovers.
What are the Violations of a Tenant’s Quiet Enjoyment?
Violations of a tenant’s quiet enjoyment can have a detrimental effect on your property. In order to avoid negative consequences for violations, such as the end of a tenancy or a tenant withholding rent, you must avoid engaging in the following actions:
- Appearing at the rental home after office hours for a random property inspection without sending prior notice (at least 24 hours) to the renter.
- Entering and leaving the rental space without regard to a tenant’s privacy.
- Refusing to take action about a tenant’s complaint about excessive noise emanating from another tenant’s unit.
- Turning off a tenant’s utilities (water, electricity, heating).
- Physically intimidating and threatening a tenant.
How Can Tenants Resolve a Violation?
A tenant has a multitude of options to address a landlord’s violation of quiet enjoyment. Here are measures they can take:
- Furnishing a written request to the landlord and asking for the disturbance to halt.
- Calling the police to assist in stopping a disturbance frequently occurring in the premises.
- Requesting a landlord to pay back a partial or full rent as damages.
- Leaving the property and requesting a rent refund.
- Collecting evidence through video recording or pictures of the violation as defense to end the tenancy.
Is Every Nuisance a Violation?
Not every nuisance can be classified as a violation of quiet enjoyment. Before accusing a landlord of being guilty of a violation, it is important to know the differences between a violation and an annoyance.
Violations of Quiet Enjoyment:
- A tenant’s heater malfunctions during the winter season and the landlord keeps delaying the repair.
- A tenant does not have access to hot water during the cold months.
- A tenant living on the 15th floor has to go down the stairs since the elevator malfunctioned.
- A tenant’s sleep is frequently disturbed due to the noise from the late night parties next door.
- A tenant often experiences harassing phone calls from the landlord.
- Parties that end at 10pm with a moderate level of music.
- Experiencing frustration from being unable to park a car due to the first-come-first-serve policy.
- A landlord calling up a tenant to inquire about the due date of the rent payment.
- Alarm noise from a simple fire drill.
- Occasional sound of crickets and other wildlife outside the property.
How Can Landlords Mitigate the Risk?
When a renter brings a particular disturbance to your attention, it’s important to listen. Here are some ways to confront the issue on violation of quiet enjoyment:
- Communication – Talk to the renter and provide reassurance that you’ll resolve the situation. If another tenant is causing the nuisance, remind the tenant to observe peace and quiet in the premises. Otherwise, consequences will result in violating the terms in the lease agreement.
- Compensation – If incidents occurred such as damages or physical injuries to a tenant, the landlord will need to offer compensation. Replacement or treatment must be performed.
- Eviction – If a tenant repeatedly violates another tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment, then an eviction is evitable. You can’t risk losing your other tenants. If there have been repeated reminders and warnings to the tenant causing the nuisance, then it’s only fair to end his tenancy.
The Bottom Line
Always honor every tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment and ensure disturbances are addressed quickly. If renovations are being done, give adequate notice and keep noise to a minimum. Read our post on Colorado landlord-tenant law for more help.
If you need a professional property manager in Denver, Colorado, please contact McGuire Property Management & Sales at (720) 402 5477.