Is snoring and keeping another tenant in another apartment awake at night in violation of quiet enjoyment?
3 attorney answers
While I agree with Mr. Chen, I do believe some affirmative steps should be made to assist in this problem.
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I would add that a landlord should investigate the complaint to confirm whether the snoring is unreasonbly loud and why it can be so easily heard upstairs. There may be some practical solutions to mitigate the noise between floors, such as installing insulation in the ceiling/floor, or installing carpet upstairs, securing the vents, or installing white noise like a fan.
My answer is not legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship and may not be relied on by you or in any other specific case. My comments are for general discussion based on California law. My comment assumes a hypothetical set of facts. If you desire legal advice about your specific case, I recommend that you hire an experienced attorney licensed in your state to analyze a complete set of facts, documents, and circumstances as well as the law applicable to your specific case to assess your legal options and whether your goals will be achieved by any action you propose and otherwise protect your interest.
No, not likely. Under California law, all leases have the implied covenant of "quiet enjoyment". (California Civil Code, § 1927). The landlord 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.)
Here, I think the neighbor's snoring would constitute a minor inconvenience and would not amount to the level of substantial interference that is required to establish a breach of quiet enjoyment. At most, the landlord's duty would simply be to inform the snoring tenant of the other tenant's complaint and let the snoring tenant determine what, if anything, he could do.
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.