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Tenant’s Right to Quiet Enjoyment in California

What Is the “Right to Quiet Enjoyment?”

California law implicitly grants tenants the right to enjoy their rented property without “substantial interference” by their landlord. All California tenants are legally entitled to this right. It is infringed upon when a landlord or someone working for them interferes with their ability to enjoy their dwelling and live in it peacefully. This can also be violated if the landlord fails to prevent another tenant from violating someone’s right to quiet enjoyment.

What Kind of Actions Violate the Right to Quiet Enjoyment?

Just because California tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment, it does not mean that any annoyance by the landlord would result in a violation of this right. The law states that there must be “substantial interference,” which is a legally vague term, but tends to include actions that are repeated and/or prevent the tenant from quietly enjoying their space for an extended period of time. Some examples would include:

  • A landlord has a realtor hold apartment showings twice per week for the last 3 months of the current tenant’s lease
  • Another tenant smokes marijuana every night in the unit next to the plaintiff, which spreads a strong odor around the premises
  • A landlord and a tenant agree to permit construction on one of the nearby units, but the construction is loud and occurs at 6 A.M. almost every morning
  • A landlord wants to get rid of a tenant, so they harass them and shut off their hot water to try and get them to leave

The right to quiet enjoyment is frequently violated when landlords take part in “constructive eviction,” which is when they allow the living conditions to be so bad that a reasonable tenant would have to move out.

What Should I Do if My Landlord Is Infringing Upon My Right to Quiet Enjoyment?

If the breach of your right to quiet enjoyment is not particularly severe, it may be a good idea to request in writing that they stop infringing on your rights before calling an attorney. You can eventually sue to get your rent refunded, and depending on the district, you may be able to recover compensation for physical/emotional damages caused by your landlord. However, it is advised you start the process in writing so there is a record of your complaint.

For severe breaches of quiet enjoyment, especially ones that cause physical and emotional harm, you should seek legal representation immediately. You should also consider filing a police complaint, particularly in a situation where your landlord is harassing you or making you feel unsafe. 

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