MICHAEL PAPUC | Attorney at Law San Francisco


Tenant’s Right to Quiet Enjoyment of Premises

by Michael Papuc
Attorney at Law
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 2405
San Francisco, California 94104

San Francisco attorney Michael Papuc represents landlords and tenants in eviction proceedings.

The covenant of quiet enjoyment is implied in every rental agreement in California. The landlord impliedly promises to allow the tenant possession and “quiet enjoyment” of the premises during the contract term and not to, through act or omission, disturb the tenant's possession and beneficial enjoyment of the premises for the purposes contemplated by the rental agreement. (Civil Code § 1927; Andrews v. Mobile Aire Estates (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 578, 588 & fn. 8; Marchese v. Standard Realty & Develop. Co. (1977) 74 Cal.App.3d 142, 147.)

Minor inconveniences and annoyances are not actionable breaches. Rather, the landlord's act or omission must be substantial, e.g., so serious as to render the premises unfit for the purposes contemplated by the lease or which substantially affect the tenant's enjoyment of a material part of the premises. (Civil Code § 1927; Kulawitz v. Pacific Woodenware & Paper Co. (1944) 25 Cal. 2d 664, 668; Andrews v. Mobile Aire Estates (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 578, 589–590; Frittelli, Inc. v. 350 North Cannon Drive, LP (2011) 202 Cal.App.4th 35, 47.)

The “perpetrator” need not be the landlord personally. There may be an actionable breach where substantial interference is caused by the landlord's agent, by someone claiming under the landlord, or by another third person under the landlord's control. (Andrews v. Mobile Aire Estates, supra, 125 Cal.App.4th at 590.)

For instance, a landlord's failure to curb a tenant's disruptive or abusive conduct might be found to breach the covenant of quiet enjoyment running in favor of other tenants at the premises. (See Andrews v. Mobile Aire Estates, supra, 125 Cal.App.4th at 593 (triable issue of fact whether landlord breached duty to preserve quiet enjoyment by failing to take action against alleged “nuisance tenant” who repeatedly splashed mud on plaintiffs' cars, aimed video camera into their living room, used racial epithet, was verbally abusive, drove his car toward plaintiff, forcing him to swerve, and committed battery).)

“[T]he covenant of quiet enjoyment requires a reasonable response by the landlord, which may include conducting an investigation and thereafter, taking appropriate action, which may include, inter alia, the issuance of a warning to the offending party, the pursuit of injunctive relief against the tenant to enjoin the violation, or, if necessary, the commencement of eviction proceedings.” (Andrews v. Mobile Aire Estates, supra, 125 Cal.App.4th at 584, 597.)


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