Quiet Enjoyment for a Commercial Tenant in California

Previously on our blog, we have discussed the many differences between rights held by residential as opposed to commercial tenants. Recently we examined how both residential and commercial tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of their rented property, but that it is sometimes more difficult for commercial tenants to escape the term of a lease for a violation of the covenant. Here, we will discuss what quiet enjoyment means for a commercial tenant.

The right to quiet enjoyment requires a landlord to ensure that a tenants’ use and enjoyment of the property will not be disturbed.  Every California lease includes a covenant of quiet enjoyment, and such a covenant is often an express term in commercial leases.  But unlike residential rental agreements, parties to a commercial lease can modify or waive the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Even if a commercial lease contains a provision ensuring quiet use and enjoyment, another provision in the lease can modify or limit the remedies available for a breach by the landlord. For example, in one case, the lease agreement reserved a right for the landlord to renovate the property. The Landlord did so, but the tenant complained that the renovation, which was diminishing the tenant’s visibility to customers and causing dust to enter the premises, was interfering with his right to quiet use and enjoyment. A court held that the provision allowing remodeling without claims for damages modified the covenant of quiet enjoyment, and the tenant lost. Fritelli, Inc., v. 350 North Canyon, 202 Cal.App.4th 35 (2011).

As this case shows, the answer to “What does quiet enjoyment mean for a commercial tenant” is often determined by the specific terms of the commercial lease at issue.  The right can be eliminated or modified by a term or multiple terms of the lease agreement, making a particular commercial tenant’s rights as unique as their lease.

Ezer Williamson Law provides a wide range of both transactional and litigation services to individuals and businesses. We have successfully prosecuted and defended various types of business and property claims. Contact us at (310) 277-7747 to see how we can help you with your business or real estate law concerns.

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