Understanding the Renter’s “Right of Quiet Enjoyment” of Their Property

As a renter, you want to have the “right of quiet enjoyment” of your residence since you're paying rent for it each month. What this means, according to NLS.org, is that you have the right to be left alone, not disturbed, and generally not bothered in your residential unit as long as you are following the agreed-upon rules of the city, community, and your legal lease contract with the owner. But there are several issues that can impact and may be violating your right to quiet enjoyment, so let's discuss a few and explore what you can do about it.

One of the things you may be concerned about is the rules regarding your landlord's access to your property. A landlord can generally enter your property, subject to the lease, to do repairs with notice to you, in an emergency, or when showing the property for sale or rental. It’s very rare that any of these situations would impact your right to quiet enjoyment. However, in some cases, they might, such as if your landlord is not respectful to you, pops by all the time, or enters your unit without sufficient notice.

If you're suffering from this, you might have to pursue a judicial remedy, but you really should try to handle and solve the situation in a diplomatic way with your landlord first before taking any legal action. After all, your landlord may not even know that it is a bother because they may be inexperienced, or have had tenants before that never minded (or complained) about their behavior. So play it cool and try to work it out.

However, even if you plan to discuss this in person with your landlord, keep track of what you consider to be an issue. Then, talk to them about your specific issues in a sensitive and tactful way, and request that they keep some boundaries to make your living situation better. This is probably going to solve the issue most of the time, but if it doesn’t, you might need some assistance from a lawyer or a local housing authority. In this case, keep track of everything, including what you did to try to solve the problem, dates, times, costs, etc.

Quiet enjoyment also means the freedom from repeated disturbing noise. If there is construction going on or other noise issues, the courts would look at the level of noise, the frequency and duration, and possibly what the landlord knew and disclosed to you, the tenant, about the noise.

For example, if the owner was doing construction on another unit he owned in the building and it made a lot of noise that would go on for months, that’s a different story than if a building next door started construction – unbeknownst to your landlord – during your tenancy. Other items would be like if the residential unit was under the airport flight path; it’s really up to you as the renter to notice obvious glaring issues like planes flying overhead or train tracks next door. You can’t blame the landlord for something like that. Barking dogs are another issue that might arise. In those cases, you should consider if it's a new neighbor with dogs, or one who has been there forever, meaning that the landlord should have already known that it could be an issue.

Depending on the specific situation,, you might be able to get the city to solve it via the city’s code compliance policing unit. They might also handle construction noise issues that occur, for example, before 7am or after 6pm. Try to determine the best way to handle the situation and work with your landlord towards a resolution that works for all parties. Take my word for it: 99% of landlords just want the issue solved so they don’t have to waste time dealing with it.

There could also be loud partying or annoying neighbors that could be preventing you the quiet enjoyment of the premises. Repeated noise and disturbances can probably be handled with a simple request to the owner or code compliance. If the situation gets bad or dangerous, though, always call the police first and let them handle the situation in a cool and calm manner. There's no need for you to get involved in an argument.

Luckily, it’s pretty rare for renters to suffer from an issue related to quiet enjoyment. But they do occasionally occur, so as with all issues, be reasonable and work with your landlord to come up with something that will be to the satisfaction of all parties.