Once the landlord-tenant relationship is established, tenants obtain certain rights. One such right is contained in the federal law and is the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
This is a foundational concept that is built in every lease or rental agreement. And, it exists regardless of whether it’s implied or expressly stated in the agreement.
The Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment is a promise decreeing that you’ll maintain a tranquil environment for your tenant so that they can enjoy the rented premises in peace.
As a landlord, you must understand your obligations in regards to this law. The following are answers to commonly asked questions regarding the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
What is an Implied Covenant?
An implied covenant is a promise that isn’t expressly stated in a contractual agreement. Both parties entering the contract simply assume it to be true.
What is Quiet Enjoyment?
Quiet enjoyment is the right to the undisturbed use of the rental property by the tenant. In other words, it’s a covenant promising that you’ll not do anything to interfere or compromise your tenant’s reasonable use and enjoyment of their rented premises.
What Rights Does a Tenant Have Under the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
Broadly speaking, tenants obtain five basic rights under the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment. The rights are as follows:
- The right to privacy - In other words, your tenant has a right to be left alone. The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment prohibits a landlord from entering the unit whoever they want. You must do so only for certain reasons, during specific times. You must provide your tenant at least a 12 hours notice before the intended entry.
- The right to live in peace and quiet - As a landlord, you have a responsibility to resolve any issues or noise complaints your tenant notifies you of.
- The right to freedom from discrimination - As a landlord, you must follow the Fair Housing rules. Protected classes in Florida include race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability.
- The right to live in a habitable rental property - Among other things, your property must have essential utilities such as drinking water, electricity, heat, and adequate trash receptacles.
What Happens if the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment is Violated?
The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment can be violated in various ways as already seen. And in most of those cases, the landlord will have an opportunity to fix the violation.
It’s important to note that tenants have a responsibility to notify their landlord regarding issues that violate their peace and quiet enjoyment. Once the issue is brought to your attention, you’ll then be required to act within a reasonable time frame.
In Florida, landlords have exactly 7 days to fix a habitability issue once they have been notified. If you don’t, your tenant will have the right to sue you for violating the terms of the contract. Also, your tenant may have a right to terminate their lease.
How Can a Landlord Violate the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
The following are common violations of the covenant of quiet enjoyment:
- Frequent entries to your tenant’s premises, or entering your tenant’s unit without serving the proper notice.
- Going through your tenant’s personal belongings.
- Failing to eliminate or minimize noises or nuisances disrupting your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment.
- Threatening or harassing your tenant either in person or over the phone.
- Restricting or terminating essential services your tenant has a right to, such as hot water and electricity.
- Failing to provide your tenant with items that you promised to provide in the lease agreement.
- Failure to make repairs that impact your tenant’s habitability within the stipulated time.
- Prohibiting your tenant from enjoying their rented premises, like entertaining their guests.
When Can a Landlord Enter Rented Premises?
A landlord can enter rented premises under certain circumstances. Including:
- To inspect the property.
- To make needed or requested repairs necessary to ensure the property remains habitable.
- When looking to provide services that your tenant has requested.
- To serve your tenant with important notices.
- Under the orders of the court.
- In case you suspect the property to be abandoned.
- To show the unit to prospective buyers, lenders, or tenants.
Are there Acceptable Disturbances to a Tenant’s Peace and quiet?
Yes, they are as follows:
- Smoke alarm that goes off, but is turned off right away.
- Footsteps from neighbors above the tenant or in common areas.
- Noise from traffic or common wildlife.
- Disruptions arising from repair or maintenance work.
- Routine inspections are specified in the lease agreement or with proper notice.
Can a Tenant Violate the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
Yes. Tenants must adhere to the lease agreement. That said a tenant may also violate the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Examples of how this can happen to include:
- Playing loud music
- Having strong odor emanating from the rental
- Having a loud animal
As previously mentioned, the easiest and more common way to stop the violation of quiet enjoyment is by communicating the issue to relevant parties.
This may mean requesting the tenant to turn down their loud music, for instance. On your part, it may mean stopping interfering with your tenant’s use of the property.
What Can a Landlord Do to Ensure Compliance with the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
There are several ways to ensure that you comply with the convenant. They are as follows:
- Always give your Florida tenant an advance notice at least 12 hours before entering their rented unit.
- Make sure that all correspondences after the initial phone call are in writing.
- Stick to what the law says when it comes to writing quiet enjoyment letters.
- Handle all court and eviction proceedings per state law.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility of upholding the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment. If you need further help, reach out to the expert team at Gifford Properties & Management. We’re a professional property management company serving Jacksonville, Florida.