A tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment provides the tenant with the right to:
- reasonable privacy;
- freedom from unreasonable disturbance;
- exclusive possession of the rental unit subject to the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit; and
- use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes, free from significant interference.
Given the indiscernible nature of the right to quiet enjoyment, landlords may be left wondering about the limits of such right. In determining whether a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment has been breached, adjudicators determine whether the tenant’s ordinary and lawful enjoyment of the rental unit has been substantially interfered with as a result of either the landlord’s actions or inaction. In other words, even if it is a third party that is responsible for such interference, if the landlord fails to take reasonable remedial action, the landlord may still be found to be in breach of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment.
It is important to note that in order to make a finding of significant interference or unreasonable disturbance, the interference or disturbance in question has to either be recurring in nature or otherwise very egregious. Examples of such interference may include:
- frequent entry into the rental unit;
- unreasonable and ongoing noise;
- persecution and intimidation;
- refusal of access to parts of the rental unit;
- preventing the tenant to have guests without cause; and
- allowing the rental unit to fall into such disrepair that it is becomes uninhabitable.
Last revised: April 10, 2016
- A tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment is one of the most fundamental, yet intangible rights of the tenant during the course of a residential tenancy. It also happens to be a common cause of action in dispute resolution hearings initiated by tenants. If breached, it is often hard to quantify the damages attributable to such breach.
- When faced with a claim for monetary compensation for a breach of the right to quiet enjoyment, you should keep in mind that the Residential Tenancy Act also imposes on the tenant a duty to mitigate their losses. This means that your tenant cannot simply stay silent for a significant period of time about a disturbance and then seek retroactive compensation for that entire period when convenient. The tenant must act reasonably in advising you of the alleged disturbance in a timely manner. If you do not act within a reasonable amount of time, the tenant should make an application the Residential Tenancy Branch for an order of compliance.