Suing a Landlord for Breach of Quiet Enjoyment
As a tenant, you have several renters’ rights — one of which is the right to quiet enjoyment. The legal term, “quiet enjoyment”, means that landlords are prohibited from disturbing you or interfering with your enjoyment of peace and quiet. Unless the disruption results from repairs or emergency, you may sue the landlord for breach of quiet enjoyment when they violate these rights.
In this article, we will provide a guide to what constitutes a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment and what you can do as a tenant when the covenant is broken.
What is Breach of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
The lease or rental contract provides tenants the right to live in safe and habitable premises and the right to live in peace and quiet. Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment is an implied covenant where tenants are protected from the disruption that interferes with their reasonable and peaceful use of the property. Since it is ‘implied’, it will not be explicitly stated in the lease or rental contract and landlords cannot force tenants into waiving the covenant. Examples of breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment include:
- Entering the rented unit often and without prior notice
- Eavesdropping or sneaking around in the tenant’s rented unit
- Failure to keep noise and nuisance to a minimum
- Harassing the tenant in person or via other means of communication
- Cutting off the availability of electricity, hot water, and other essential amenities
- Failure to provide furnishings and services that were included in the lease
- Failure to provide repairs that adversely affect the tenant’s safety
- Banning the tenant from enjoying the property such as entertaining visitors
- Illegal lockout where landlord prevents tenants from entering the rented unit without a court order
Possible Landlord Defenses
When you sue the landlord for breach of quiet enjoyment, you need to anticipate their defenses. You can do this during the discovery process where you exchange questions with the other party. You will also be required to show evidence or other documentation that you plan to use in your lawsuit. The most common landlord defenses are as follows:
|Defense||What It Is|
|Technical error in the service or the complaint||The court may dismiss a case if the landlord was not properly served or if the complaint forms are not correctly completed|
|Failure to send notice||The court may postpone or dismiss a case if the landlord was never notified of the issue|
|No time to repair||The tenant must provide the landlord with a reasonable time to resolve the issue|
|Minor disturbance||The disruption should be so serious that it cannot be merely an annoyance|
Steps In Suing a Landlord for Breach of Quiet Enjoyment
As a tenant, there are several things you can do when the covenant of quiet enjoyment is broken. You may try to take initial steps before taking the issue to court which may save you time and money. Here are some of the steps you can take:
- Send a covenant of quiet enjoyment to the landlord or property management agent to formally notify them that the covenant is broken. Describe the important issues and how it has affected your safety and living conditions.
- Stop paying rent. However, make sure to check with your state if that is legally allowed.
- Evict yourself from the rented unit voluntarily. Make sure that the issue is so serious to warrant a voluntary eviction. For example, refusal to fix leaky plumbing may not be sufficient. But a mold problem that has adverse effects on your health will be more than enough reason. Also, make sure to provide the landlord prior notice of the issue and a reasonable time to fix it.
- If the problem is still not resolved at this point, you may sue the landlord in small claims court. For example, if you evicted yourself and your deposit was withheld, you can sue for an unreturned security deposit. The best chance to win your case is to collect as much evidence as you can to support your case. Small claims courts do not require the services of a lawyer so there are no lawyer fees to worry about.
How to Sue the Landlord with DoNotPay?
Suing a landlord in a small claims court can be challenging because of the bureaucracies involved. Not only that but there are countless forms to fill up and demand letters to draft. You need to ensure that your paperwork is correct and complete or else you could lose the case due to technical errors. That’s where DoNotPay can help. Our robot lawyer in an app can simplify the process for suing in small claims court. All you have to do is:
- Log in to DoNotPay and select the Sue Now Product.
- Enter the dollar amount you are owed.
- Select whether you want a demand letter or court filing forms.
- Describe the reason for the lawsuit and submit any applicable details, including photo proof.
That’s it! DoNotPay will then generate a demand letter or court filing forms for you. We’ll even mail a copy of your demand letter to the individual or business you are suing!
Who We’ve Sued So Far
DoNotPay has been helping users sue companies and regular citizens who have wronged them. Our app has helped them save hundreds of dollars with user-friendly solutions that they can complete in a few clicks. Here’s who we’ve helped sue so far: