Peace, quiet and privacy during a tenancy

Last updated on December 7, 2023

Tenants have the right to peace, quiet and privacy in their homes, also known as quiet enjoyment. Landlords must provide quiet enjoyment to all tenants. 

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Quiet enjoyment 

Quiet enjoyment gives tenants the right to live in a rental unit without unnecessary disturbances from others. It ensures that tenants can enjoy their privacy and use the space as agreed upon in the tenancy agreement. 

Quiet enjoyment also includes the tenant's right to:

  • Have guests
  • Cook foods of their choice
  • Practice their religion 
  • Use all facilities described in the tenancy agreement 

Unreasonable disturbances breach quiet enjoyment 

A breach of quiet enjoyment includes major disruptions and disturbances that prevent a tenant from enjoying their rental unit.

Unreasonable noise levels are a common cause of a breach of quiet enjoyment. Other examples can include: 

Renovations and quiet enjoyment 

Landlords should ensure that renovations do not cause excessive disruption or inconvenience for tenants. 

There are some situations where a renovation can breach a tenant's right to quiet enjoyment:

  • Renovations that cause loud and continuous noise during unreasonable hours 
  • Renovations that block or limit access to essential areas or facilities included in the tenancy agreement 
  • Repeated renovations within a short period 

Not all disturbances are unreasonable

Quiet enjoyment gives tenants the right to be free from unreasonable disturbances. However, not all disturbances are unreasonable. 

Example:  If a tenant moved into an older apartment building, it would be reasonable for them hear some noise from a child in the unit above during the day, but unreasonable to hear the neighbouring tenant regularly playing loud music past midnight.

Tenant responsibilities 

Breaching others' quiet enjoyment can lead to eviction

Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment but also have a responsibility to ensure they do not breach the quiet enjoyment of others. Tenants must make sure that they, their pets or guests don't unreasonably disturb other occupants. 

If a tenant continues to breach others' quiet enjoyment, the landlord may serve notice to end the tenancy

Tenant rights

Right to reasonable privacy

Tenants have the right to reasonable privacy in the rental unit. This means that the tenant's personal affairs and activities in the rental unit remain private and that no one can enter without permission or proper notice. 

Freedom from unreasonable disturbances 

Tenants should be able to live in the rental unit without constant disruptions or interferences. This includes being free from excessive noise or any actions that disrupt peaceful living.

Exclusive possession of the rental unit 

Tenants have the right to occupy and use a rental unit as their own during a tenancy. This is subject only to the landlord's right to enter the rental unit in accordance with the Residential Tenancy Act.

Free use of the common areas

Tenants have the right to freely use common areas, which are shared spaces outside the rental unit. This includes areas like hallways or laundry facilities.  

Disputing breaches of quiet enjoyment

If a tenant feels that their right to quiet enjoyment has been breached, they should contact the landlord to try to resolve the issue.  

If the problem continues after contacting the landlord, tenants can seek dispute resolution to resolve the issue. Dispute resolution is a process to help resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants.

Documenting breaches of quiet enjoyment 

Tenants should document evidence if they believe their right to quiet enjoyment has been breached, such as: 

  • Keeping a written record of the date and times of any disturbances
  • Collecting audio or video evidence of the disturbance 

Landlord responsibilities

Quiet enjoyment helps tenants live peacefully 

Landlords must provide quiet enjoyment to all tenants. If a tenant contacts the landlord with a disturbance complaint, the landlord must take steps to fix the problem. 

Some best practices for landlord to help ensure tenant's rights to quiet enjoyment include: 

  • Encouraging open communication between tenants 
  • Establishing reasonable noise policies, such as quiet hours
  • Promptly addressing any issues 

Landlords must address breaches of quiet enjoyment 

For example, the landlord may need to speak to a tenant about noise if it is bothering other tenants. In this type of situation, the landlord should: 

  • Talk to the disruptive tenant about the problem
  • Let the tenant who complained know what is being done to address the breach
  • Follow up with the disruptive tenant in writing (a breach letter) 

Breach letters help to solve problems

If the landlord is providing a written notice to a disruptive tenant, it should explain:

  • The details of the problem
  • The reasonable amount of time provided to resolve the problem
  • What may happen if the tenant doesn't fix the problem (e.g., serving a notice to end tenancy)

Policy guidelines

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