A Covenant that promises that the grantee or tenant of an estate in real property will be able to possess the premises in peace, without disturbance by hostile claimants.
Quiet enjoyment is a right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of real property by a tenant or landowner. The right to quiet enjoyment is contained in covenants concerning real estate. Generally a covenant is an agreement between two parties to do or refrain from doing something.
Courts read a covenant of quiet enjoyment between the Landlord and Tenant into every rental agreement, or tenancy. Thus a renter, or tenant, has the right to quiet enjoyment of the leased premises regardless of whether the rental agreement contains such a covenant.
In the covenant of quiet enjoyment, the landlord promises that during the term of the tenancy no one will disturb the tenant in the tenant’s use and enjoyment of the premises. Quiet enjoyment includes the right to exclude others from the premises, the right to peace and quiet, the right to clean premises, and the right to basic services such as heat and hot water and, for high-rise buildings, elevator service. In many respects the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment is similar to an Implied Warranty of habitability, which warrants that the landlord will keep the leased premises in good repair. For example, the failure to provide heat would be a breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment because the lack of heat would interfere with the tenant’s use of the premises and would also make the premises uninhabitable, especially in a cold climate.
Other rights related to quiet enjoyment may be tailored to specific situations. For example, at least one court has found that the ringing of smoke alarms for more than a day is an interference with a tenant’s quiet enjoyment of leased premises (Manzaro v. McCann, 401 Mass. 880, 519 N.E.2d 1337 ).
Tenants have at least two remedies for a landlord’s breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment: the tenant can cease to pay rent until the problem is solved, or the tenant can move out. A tenant who moves out may be liable for any rent owing under the agreement if a court decides that the landlord did not breach the covenant of quiet enjoyment.
A covenant of quiet enjoyment may be included in an exchange, or conveyance, of land ownership at the option of the parties to the deed. Quiet enjoyment has a slightly different scope in the context of land ownership than it has in the context of a tenancy. When a seller gives a deed to the land to another party, the seller no longer has control over the property. The covenant of quiet enjoyment, when contained in a deed to real estate, warrants that the title to the land is clear, meaning that it has no encumbrances, or claims against it by other persons.
A warranty deed includes a covenant of quiet enjoyment. By contrast, a quitclaim deed makes no warranties regarding the title and contains no covenant of quiet enjoyment.
Kroll, David G. 1992. “The Landlord/Tenant Warranty of Habitability and the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.” Colorado Lawyer 21 (June).
“Real Property.” 1994. SMH Bar Review.
West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
QUIET ENJOYMENT. In leases there are frequently covenants by which the
lessor agrees that the lessee shall peaceably enjoy the premises leased;
this is called a covenant for quiet enjoyment. This covenant goes to the
possession and not to the title. 3 John. 471; 5 John. 120; 2 Dev. R. 388; 3
Dev. R. 200. A covenant for quiet enjoyment does not extend as far as a
covenant of warranty. 1 Aik. 233.
2. The covenant for quiet enjoyment is broken only by an entry, or
lawful expulsion from, or some actual disturbance in, the possession. 3
John. 471; 15 John. 483; 8 John. 198; 7 Wend. 281; 2 Hill, 105; 2 App. R.
251; 9 Metc. 63; 4 Whart. 86; 4 Cowen, 340. But the tortious entry of the
covenantor, without title, is a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment.
7 John. 376.
A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.