In Texas, a lease becomes valid after a landlord accepts rent payments for living in a property. The agreement can be made orally or be written.
Once that is done, the lease gives both parties to the lease certain rights. Among the rights your tenant obtains is the right to quiet enjoyment of their rented premises. This is a right that comes from the common law principle of quiet enjoyment.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure that you abide by this law. If you fail to do so, you risk facing a number of repercussions. Including, your tenant choosing to move out without further responsibilities to the lease.
In this blog, you’ll learn everything you need to learn in regards to this fundamental tenant right.
What Do the Terms “Implied Covenant” and “Quiet Enjoyment” Mean?
In law, your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment is anchored as the “Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.” So, what exactly do the terms “implied” and “quiet enjoyment” mean?
Now, when a covenant is implied, it simply means that it doesn’t have to be stated in the agreement to be valid. In other words, your tenant is covered by the covenant no matter if it’s one of the terms in your lease agreement.
As for “quiet enjoyment,” it means that your tenant has a right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of their rented premises. This is a formal clause that exists in many lease agreements.
What Rights Are Guaranteed Under the “Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment”?
As part of every tenancy agreement, your tenant has a right to peace, quiet and privacy – a right derived from the principle of quiet enjoyment. This means that your Texas tenant has a right to:
- Live in reasonable privacy. So, even as a landlord, you’ll need to notify your tenant first before making any entry. While there’s no statute addressing a landlord’s entry, Texas courts have held that a landlord my not enter rental property unless they have permission from their tenants.
- Freedom from unreasonable disturbance. As a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure you remove or minimize any disruptions that infringe on your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment.
- Exclusive possession of the rental unit. The only exception to this is when you need to access the property to carry out important landlording responsibilities.
- Use of common areas (like laundry facilities, yards or hallways). Your tenant has a nonexclusive right to use common areas for purposes intended, subject to any reasonable rules in the lease agreement.
- Live in a habitable rental property. A habitable rental property is one that meets the state’s basic health, safety and structural codes. A property is said to be habitable if it has working locks, drinkable water, adequate ventilation systems, working electricity and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, among other things.
In addition, quiet enjoyment may also grant your tenant other rights. Including, a right to:
- Use all the services and facilities described in the lease agreement
- Practice their religion
- Play music at a reasonable level during acceptable hours
- Cook foods of their choice
- To have guests
When Can a Landlord Enter Rented Premises in Texas?
In Texas, landlords have a right to enter rented premises to carry out their responsibilities. In Texas, landlords can require entry for the following reasons.
- To inspect the rental unit for damage or for lease violations
- To perform requested or required repairs to ensure the property is in a habitable state as required by state law
- Under court orders
- To carry out property improvements, such as installing new kitchen cabinets or new flooring
- In case of an emergency
- If you believe your tenant has abandoned their rental premises
- To issue your tenant with an eviction notice for lease violation
Some states have passed legislation on the notice period a landlord must provide their tenants prior to entry. However, Texas isn’t one of these states. Regardless, courts have held that landlords must only enter rented premises after being authorized by the tenant.
A notice period of 24 hours is typical. The only exception to providing notice is in the event of an emergency. Examples of such emergencies include a major gas leak, loss of heat in cold conditions, major plumbing leak, and fire.
The time of entry must also be reasonable. For example, between 8AM and 5PM during weekdays, and between 10AM and 3PM during weekends. But of course, it’s also possible for you and your tenant to agree on any other time that works for both of you.
What Are Examples of Common Violations to the “Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment”?
The following are examples of common violations.
- Repeatedly entering your tenant’s rented premises without providing them with prior notice. And besides infringing your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment, your tenant could also sue you for landlord harassment.
- Going through the personal belongings of your tenant without their permission
- Failing in your responsibility to minimize or remove disruptions that violate your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment
- Failing to provide the amenities or essential services listed on the lease agreement
- Failing to respond to your tenant’s maintenance requests within a reasonable period of time
- Prohibiting your tenant from enjoying their rented premises
What are Acceptable Disturbances to the “Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment”?
As long as they don’t occur repeatedly, the following actions may be deemed as acceptable disturbances and not quiet enjoyment violations.
- Noise from wildlife, such as crickets or birds
- Constant disturbance from the footsteps of a tenant living upstairs
- Responding to an emergency repair issue
- Making repeated calls to your tenant to inquire about something. For example, to schedule an inspection.
- Showing the unit to prospective tenants, lenders or buyers
- Knocking on the tenant’s door to demand for rent that is past due
There you have it. Everything you need to know about the “Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.” If you have further questions or need help in any other aspect of property management, Limestone Country Properties can help!
Disclaimer: This article is not supposed to be a substitute for legal counsel or representation.