Does the leasing office have to tell me that they were about to start renovationg the building before I signed my lease?
I signed my lease and moved to my new apartment and a few days after they started renovating the pool, sun deck and entrance for the next 3 months. It is very loud all day. Is it a way to get out my lease before the end of it?
It could be. However, one would have to review your actual lease to see which provision the landlord might have breached in such an instance.
Moreover, under California law, all leases have the implied covenant of "quiet enjoyment". (California Civil Code, § 1927). The landlord (and management company) has the duty to preserve the quiet enjoyment of all tenants. (Davis v. Gomez (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1401, 1404.)
If you as a tenant unilaterally breach the lease and move out without the approval of the landlord or management company, then the landlord has the right to take your security deposit for the unpaid rent, and bring a lawsuit to recover the rent due for the remaining duration of the lease. Typically, since the landlord has the duty to mitigate damages by finding a replacement tenant, the lawsuit will not be filed right away. A judgment against you which is not satisfied (unpaid) will certainly reduce your credit score. A tenant will have the opportunity to fight a lawsuit in the event the landlord or management company decides to sue for the balance of the rent due.
Basically, what you as the tenant want to establish in your defense is a "constructive eviction" defense. The concept of a “constructive eviction” exists under the rubric of a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment that is implied in every rental agreement. (Stoiber v Honeychuck (1980) 101 Cal.App.3d 903, 925–926.)
Substantial interference is required to establish a breach of quiet enjoyment. An interference by the landlord "by which the tenant is deprived of the beneficial enjoyment of the premises amounts to a constructive eviction if the tenant so elects and surrenders possession, and the tenant will not be liable for rentals for the portion of the term following his eviction." (Kulawitz v. Pacific Paper Co. (1944) 25 Cal.2d 664, 670.)
Minor inconveniences and annoyances are not actionable breaches of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. To be actionable, the landlord's act or omission must substantially interfere with a tenant's right to use and enjoy the premises for the purposes contemplated by the tenancy. (Petroleum Collections Inc. v. Swords (1975) 48 Cal.App.3d 841, 846.)
If you are a tenant who makes little or no attempts to inform the landlord of the noise problems and just quietly move out, this fact would not look favorably in the eyes of the court or a jury. To protect your credit, a much better approach would be to negotiate a lease termination agreement whereby you agree to pay a certain sum in exchange for a full release of any and all obligations under the lease.
However, if the landlord is not willing to enter into a lease termination agreement, then I suggest that before you move out, write another letter to the landlord or management company documenting the entire chronology of events, from the inception of the problem to the multiple requests you made to the landlord or management company regarding this issue.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.