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Right to Quiet Enjoyment - tenant above with old wood floors-VERY LOUD

Sherman Oaks, CA |

I've lived in a 4 unit, small complex for 3 years. I've been complaining about the floor boards in the unit above me for 2 years. Just keeps getting worse. Old wood that creeks, splits, cracks, bends and squeeks continuously. Very loud and annoying. Especially when you are trying to sleep. The tenants above walking on the floors hear it too. They thought fixing the problem was adding carpet and thick pad. I informed them it wasnt going to work because the problem is the wood BELOW the carpet. They are very cheap with repairs around here and always send the same "handyman" to fix things. Not experienced people at all. I've done all request in writing and provided video of the noise. They ignore. Don't I have a right to quiet Enjoyment. Also note they had termite problem about 2yrs ag

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Attorney answers 1


Yes you do. 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.)

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. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

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