In short, the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment is a guarantee of sorts that the landlord will not permit either himself or someone else from interfering with the tenant's use and enjoyment of the rental unit. This implied covenant was established all the way back in 1927 in California Civil Code 1872 which stated: "An agreement to let upon hire binds the letter to secure to the hirer the quiet possession of the thing hired during the term of the hiring, against all persons lawfully claiming the same." Since its enactment, California cases have set out to define in greater detail what this covenant is and what it is not.
Case Law on the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment
Petroleum Collections Inc. v. Swords, 48 Cal.App.3d 841 (1975) and Guntert v. City of Stockton, 55 Cal.App.3d 131 (1976) both stood for the rule that unless otherwise stated, this covenant is impliedly found in ALL leasing agreements. Pierce v. Nash, 126 Cal.App.2d 606 (1954) held that 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.
Remedy for a Breach of the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment
An interference by the landlord, or by someone claiming under 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 etc. Paper Co. 25 Cal.2d 664 (1944). Remember, deciding to vacate the premises prematurely without providing sufficient notice to the landlord to remedy the situation or vacating when the interference is not substantial enough to justify such a move is a very risky endeavor. Make sure you discuss your rights with a landlord/tenant attorney who can better guide you in the process and ensure you are following proper protocol before you decide to vacate your unit due to a breach of this covenant.
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