Written by attorney Keon Knutson

Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

COVENANT OF QUIET ENJOYMENT concerns the possession of property, where the lessor agrees that the tenant shall peacefully and quietly enjoy the premises leased. Such a covenant is express or implied: express, when it is contained in the lease or implied, either from the words used, or from the conduct of the lessor. COVENANT OF QUIET ENJOYMENT IN RESIDENTIAL LEASES. A tenant has a right not to be wrongfully evicted. A wrongful eviction may include a physical ouster by the landlord. Or it may take the form of a constructive eviction. A constructive eviction terminates the tenant's duty to pay rent. Two principles, the covenant of quiet enjoyment and the warranty of habitability are implied in all leases. If the landlord violates these principals, the tenant can assert a constructive eviction. STATUTE V. "COMMON LAW" There is no WA statute that explicitly provides for the covenant of quiet enjoyment or implied warranty of habitability. These are "common law" principles only. That means that though they are not codified in by statute, they are acknowledged in case law and by the courts. When a tenant bring a suit against the landlord, his strongest claims will be based on his rights under the Residential Landlord Tenant Act. 59.18. Breaches of the covenant of of quiet enjoyment and implied warranty of habitability can be raised as alternative claims. EXAMPLES The covenant of quiet enjoyment does not refer only to the tenant's right to be undisturbed. More often, examples include a landlord's failure to provide water, electricity, heat or other necessary conditions under the Landlord's control. In one case, the court held that a tenant is constructively evicted if the drinking water is unsafe. Tucker, 188 Wn. App. at 254 In another case, the tenants claimed that the landlord breached the covenant of quiet enjoyment because the lake on the property had contaminants. In order to prove its claim, the tenant had to show that the property was unlivable and they were constructively evicted from the property. The Court of Appeals denied this claim, reasoning that the tenants failed to show that the lake contaminants made the premises unlivable. Adams v. Apeland Unpublished Opinion 38230-0 II

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