Defining The “Right To Quiet Enjoyment”
The right to quiet enjoyment is a concept that often gets misapplied or misconstrued when discussing community associations and their tenants. People believe that it means the right to be free of nuisances – noise or other disruptions – when in reality, it means that a tenant must have perfect possession of the property, with no possible challenges to their residency. At least in theory, a landlord is required to uphold both, with the tenant retaining a right to seek redress if their rights are violated.
The Right To Occupy The Premises
The right to quiet enjoyment is an implied right in most cases, meaning that it is in force whether it is contained in a written contract or not. Essentially, this means that the tenant must have the uninterrupted use of the building they have paid to occupy – notwithstanding normal intrusions, such as inspections, emergencies, or fixing problems in the dwelling. In addition, factors that the landlord cannot control, such as crime or infrastructure work, do not count as breaches of the right to quiet enjoyment.
While the covenant of quiet enjoyment is intended to cover more than just nuisances, it is true that sometimes, a nuisance may later become so pervasive and problematic as to breach the covenant. An occasionally-barking dog may merely be a nuisance – but a constantly-barking dog may be a breach of the covenant. It can sometimes be difficult to determine what qualifies as private nuisance and what has graduated to the level of an actionable breach of a tenant’s right to occupy the property.
If you believe that your landlord has breached the right of quiet enjoyment, there are several ways that such a dispute can end. Some of these cases can be resolved by a letter to the landlord or management company; others may wind up in court or across an attorney’s conference table. While a tenant can do several things to protect their own interests, be advised that there are things one cannot generally do – for example, it is only in the rarest situations in which a tenant can threaten to withhold rent.
That said, it is important to be aware that a breach of the duty does not have to rise to the level of constructive eviction (when the landlord’s actions, or lack thereof, lead to a tenant being functionally unable to occupy their premises). If a tenant remains in possession, this does not exculpate a landlord who has prevented their tenant from the quiet enjoyment of the property. You do not have to remain in a situation that is untenable – but you may choose to without it affecting your legal prospects.
Contact A Tampa Real Estate Attorney
Every tenant has the right to enjoy the premises they have paid to occupy. The landlord must respect that right, whether it is express or implied. If you believe that your right to quiet enjoyment has been breached, calling a Tampa real estate attorney from the Seward Law Office can help ensure your rights are protected. Attorney Alicia Seward has experience in these matters, and is ready to try and assist you. Call the Seward Law Office today to schedule a consultation.