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Questions on Quiet Enjoyment Law

“Quiet enjoyment” is a real estate covenant, or agreement between two parties to do or to not do something. It grants a tenant or a landowner to use and enjoy a real property, undisturbed by anyone. Even when quiet enjoyment is not specifically included in a rental agreement, courts will usually read the covenant into the agreement, or tenancy. Some of the functions of quiet enjoyment include the right to exclude others from the premises, the right to enjoy quiet and peace, the right to premises that are clean, as well as the right to basic services such as heat and hot water and, elevator service for high-rise buildings.

Listed below are a few questions answered by real estate lawyers on “quiet enjoyment” related issues.

How can “quiet enjoyment” be defined under HOA’s rules and regulations?

Quiet enjoyment is the right of a tenant or landowner to the undisturbed use, possession, and enjoyment of real property. In legal terms, “quiet” is defined as “uninterrupted” along with “an absence of noise”.

I live in NJ and have new neighbors that just moved in below. They have a toddler who runs around 12 hours a day, and they stomp and slam doors a lot. They also smoke and this smoke enters my apartment. I am allergic to the smoke. What can I do if my apartment complex hasn’t done anything about this in two weeks? Do I have any rights to quiet enjoyment?

As a tenant, you do have the right to quiet enjoyment and you can demand the landlord keep other tenants from interfering with your right. What you could do is document your demands to the landlord in writing, and then file a suit against him/her for breach of the lease. However, the success of your case would depend on whether the court considers family noises that are a part of everyday life in an apartment building as a violation of quiet enjoyment. The behavior that a landlord is supposed to protect tenants from is usually much more serious than apartment building noise. Finally, if the landlord does not take steps to keep smoke out of the apartment, you could declare a constructive eviction and move out. Whatever you do, take advice from local counsel to protect your rights before deciding upon anything.

Legally, can a landlord leave a dead animal in the interior wall of a leased house? Pest control discovered a hole under the house and just plugged it, leaving a dead animal inside with a horrible stench.

With every property rental there is an implied warranty of habitability, and this includes a tenant’s right to a safe and healthy environment and to the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the rental property. With the stench, it is clear that the landlord has breached this implied warranty of habitability.

Your recourse would be to send a certified, return receipt requested letter that notifies the landlord of the default and demands the situation be fixed posthaste. Ask for a reimbursement of a part of your rent paid thus far to compensate you for the reduced value of your rental property due to the problem. Also, until the problem is solved, demand that the landlord either lowers your rent moving forward or pays for temporary living expenses.

Finally, let the landlord know that you can terminate your lease because of the default, effective as of a specified date, if the problem is not fixed. Also demand your security deposit be refunded to you in full and tell the landlord you will soon make a determination and will notify the landlord of any damages you might have suffered because of the default.

What are the Florida Laws for "quiet enjoyment" standards of apartment living?

Florida has no statutes on quiet enjoyment. The standard is "peaceable use and enjoyment of the premises" which is what the landlord should grant to the tenant in conjunction with a lease. "Peaceable" has been defined through thousands of Florida court cases. Basically, it means the tenant can use the rented property, without interference, as long as they do not cause damage to the property in any way or violate the lease terms. Most leases will also have a nuisance clause and other clauses that restrict a tenant's use of the premises. Other than that, the tenant is free to use the property without anyone else interfering, interrupting, or disturbing them.

If a landlord breaches the covenant of quiet enjoyment, a tenant has two options to deal with the situation: By ceasing to pay rent until the problem is fixed or by simply moving out. However, if the tenant decides to leave the premises, he/she could be liable for any rent owing under the agreement if the court feels that the landlord did not actually breach the covenant of quiet enjoyment.
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