Expert Interviews Missouri

Expert Interview: The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment Explained

Quiet_enjoyment_RENTCafe

RENTCafe is bringing you a series of interviews that address the most common landlord-tenant legal matters. Our goal is to inform you of your options and to give you a sense of perspective and confidence when tackling these matters.

There is quite a difference between ‘being home’ and ‘feeling at home’ where you live. Some people directly associate the latter with the idea of owning your place, but feeling at home in your rental residence should come just as naturally and be just as achievable. The quiet enjoyment clause or covenant in your lease agreement ensures your right to fully enjoy the privacy of your rental home with as little external disturbance as possible from either your landlord or another party.

To have a clear understanding of what this covenant means, we asked attorney Emily Bardon a few questions.

Mrs. Bardon is a partner at Lewis Rice LLC, in St. Louis, Missouri, where her practice is focused on public finance, real estate, and general corporate work.  She represents clients in all phases of commercial real estate transactions, including acquisition, financing, development, and leasing.

The following are her answers to our questions and they apply to residents living in the state of Missouri:

What is quiet enjoyment?

The covenant of quiet enjoyment provides a tenant with the right to use the leased premises for his or her intended purposes without disturbance from the landlord or a party acting on the landlord’s behalf. In essence, it is a two-pronged promise: The first prong is protection against title deficiencies and the second prong is protection against other interferences with the tenant’s use of the premises.

Is the covenant of quiet enjoyment standard or can you dictate some of the terms?

While there is typically an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment in residential leases in Missouri, unless expressly excluded, the parties may also negotiate the specific terms of the covenant in the lease.

What are your options if your landlord breaches the covenant of quiet enjoyment?

If the breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment by the landlord is significant enough to physically deprive the tenant of possession of the premises, Missouri courts have allowed the tenant to vacate the premises and sue the landlord for damages.  Missouri courts have also held that the tenant’s obligation to pay rent may be suspended or the tenant may be required to pay rent to a court – instead of the landlord – so that the rent may be used for repairs.  A landlord’s interference with a tenant’s covenant of quiet enjoyment may also result in a constructive eviction when the landlords’ wrongful acts substantially interfere with the tenant’s “beneficial enjoyment of the demised premises”. 

Are there any state-specific regulations that renters living in the State of Missouri should be aware of?

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office provides a helpful guide for renters.  As further described in the guide, renters of property in Missouri should be aware that:

  • County courts may order the quick removal of tenants involved in drug-related criminal activity or violence even when there is no arrest, and they may order the quick removal of persons occupying the property without the landlord’s permission. Prior written notice is not required.
  • A landlord may remove abandoned personal items once they have complied with notice requirements.
  • A landlord may be guilty of forcible entry for willfully interrupting utility service unless it is done for health and safety reasons.
  • A tenant may, under certain circumstances and after giving a landlord 14 days’ notice, deduct one-half month’s rent or up to $300 – whichever is greater – for the repair of code violations when a landlord neglects property.
  • A landlord may double the rent when a tenant lets another person take over the premises without the landlord’s permission.
  • Occupancy is limited to two persons per bedroom except for children born during the lease period.
  • A landlord cannot charge more than two months’ rent as a security deposit. At the end of the lease, the landlord has 30 days to return the security deposit with an itemized list of damages for which any portion of the deposit is kept. During that 30-day period, the landlord must provide reasonable notice to the tenant of the time and date when the landlord plans to inspect the dwelling. The tenant has the right to be present during the move-out inspection, which must be conducted at a reasonable time.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed or used as legal advice. The answers to the questions have been provided in full by the attorney interviewed and they apply to the states or areas where he/she is licensed. RENTCafe is not engaged in rendering legal advice and/or legal services to you and makes no representations about the suitability, accuracy, completeness, usefulness, or legality of any content, information and/or material contained on this site. In case of a legal dispute with your landlord or any other legal matter, you should consult a licensed attorney.

Related post: Which States Have the Best and Worst Laws for Renters?

About the author

Marina Andresi

Marina is a marketing content developer for RENTCafé.com. She likes to research and write about real estate market trends and their impact on the nation's social scene. She also writes essays about significant films and TV shows. If you want to get in touch you can email her @ marina.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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