I have lived in my apartment for 6 months. 2 weeks ago management began construction/renovations on the neighboring unit that my apartment shares a wall with. The renovations include hammering, power drills and sawing that occurs either on this wall or near it, and has created an environment that is extremely difficult for me to relax in my own apartment. The noise is relentless and occurs all throughout the day (but not before 8a or after 8p). The manager has informed me that it will occur for at least another month. I feel as though my rights are being violated. Is this a violation of my right to quiet enjoyment? How can I take action?
Yes, quite possibly.
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.)
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.)
Your options include moving out or seeking monetary damages. Much depends upon what your goal is.
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 Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
Construction / Development Lawyer
This may be enough to create a violation of your right to quiet enjoyment. You would probably be entitled to ask your landlord to let you out of your lease and move if that is your desire.
It might be better to ask your landlord to give you a reduction in rent while the construction is going on. Moving is an annoyance to say the least.
You can read about your rights as a tenant and how to assert them at: