You might think that the term Right to Quiet Enjoyment relates to noisy neighbours and your right to a quiet, peaceful evening after a hard day at work. Well, you’d be wrong. Whilst you do have rights regarding noise disturbances, the Right to Quiet Enjoyment is something else entirely.
So what is the right to quiet enjoyment? The Right to Quiet Enjoyment is a centuries-old covenant that restricts unlawful or unreasonable access to the property from landlords. Landlords are not allowed to access a tenant’s property without their express permission, and cannot unreasonably interfere with their lives.
Read on to learn more about your rights as a tenant, what your landlord can and cannot do, and learn more about the Right to Quiet Enjoyment.
What is the Right to Quiet Enjoyment?
The Right to Quiet Enjoyment is a centuries-old covenant under common law that prevents landlords from unlawfully or unreasonably accessing their occupied properties.
The Right to Quiet Enjoyment is an agreement – a covenant, or an implied law in conveyances and leases of English land for centuries. Most tenancy agreements will contain a clause detailing the landlord’s agreement to Quiet Enjoyment. However, where this is not expressly stated, the tenant still has the implicit right to Quiet Enjoyment due to the covenant.
On a similar note, the landlord’s requirement of not Derogating from Grant prevents them from providing something for a tenant, then taking it away at a later date. This applies to the Right to Quiet Enjoyment. They cannot agree to the covenant initially, either verbally or in writing, and then take it away at a later date, for any reason other than in emergency situations.
What is a Breach of Quiet Enjoyment?
Generally speaking, a breach of Quiet Enjoyment amounts to the landlord unlawfully or unreasonably accessing their occupied property without the express permission of their tenant. This can also include accessing the property to carry out work without prior notice or arranging a suitable time to enter.
Breach of the covenant also considers substantial physical interference to the property without notice or permission from the tenant and, surprisingly often, any kind of harassment of tenants from landlords.
Simply put, a landlord cannot enter their tenant’s home without express permission, a good amount of notice, and a good reason to enter. Entry for safety checks and urgent repairs, however, is exempt from the Right to Quiet Enjoyment.
So…The Right to Quiet Enjoyment Isn’t About Noise?
The Right to Quiet Enjoyment is not related to noise disturbances at all, although residents in the UK are covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and, specifically, the Statutory Nuisance clause.
To be considered a Statutory Nuisance, it must do one of the following:
- Noise levels must unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or domestic property
- Noise or actions injure health or are likely to injure health
Such problems can be taken to local councils who, if in agreement with the complaint, must serve an Abatement Notice whereby the person responsible for the nuisance must stop or restrict the noise immediately.
When Can a Landlord Legally Enter a Property?
Despite the Right to Quiet Enjoyment, landlords do have some rights of access to their rented properties. However, there are some key rules that they must follow:
- Landlords must give tenants 24 hours notice for any non-emergency scenarios by text, email, phone call, or in-person (as agreed by the tenant)
- Landlords must have a genuine reason for entry must be given
- Appointments must be scheduled during reasonable hours at a time that suits the tenant
- Tenants by law must allow access for repairs and maintenance, but the above rules must be followed
In emergency situations, landlords can, however, enter a property without notice. This includes checking essential systems such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, heating, electric, and fire safety systems.
Similarly, other emergency situations are also exempt from the above rules, such as a neighbor reporting one of the following:
- Report of pouring water, internally or externally
- Report of bad smells or decay
- Fire or gas leaks
- Suspect of the tenant doing something illegal
- Urgent structural repairs
This is not an exhaustive list and, as such, the landlord must exercise good judgement when considering accessing your rented property without permission or prior notice.
Can I Sue My Landlord for Breach of Quiet Enjoyment?
As a tenant, there are several things you can do if the covenant of the Right to Quiet Enjoyment is broken. We’d recommend trying to resolve the issue with your landlord, estate agent or, or property management company before taking the issue to court, however, to avoid creating unnecessary problems going forward.
If, after you have discussed the matter with the appropriate parties, your landlord continues to breach the covenant, you can consult a solicitor who will be able to advise on your legal options, and how best to resolve the issue and, in some cases, this may not require taking the matter further.
In summary, landlords, in most cases, must give prior notice of at least 24 hours before accessing their tenant’s property, provide a good reason for entering, and should not harass the neighbour for access. What’s more, landlords cannot conduct substantial physical interference to the property without notice or permission.
However, exemptions are made for emergency situations but exercise good judgement to determine what is a real emergency, and what should wait for permission from the tenant.