What Landlords Should Know About the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

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Buying a rental property is one of the best investments you can make. This house, condo, or apartment can help you reach your retirement goals if you’re able to manage it effectively, but the process isn’t without its problems. 

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of owning an investment property is dealing with tenants. Conflicts can arise, particularly if you have multiple people living within a building, and you must ensure you understand local laws and your responsibilities to avoid legal troubles. 

Every tenant who leases property from you has the right to unimpaired quiet enjoyment of the land while residing there. This guide examines the covenant of quiet enjoyment and what it means for landlords and tenants in the D.C. area.

What Is the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?

The term covenant of quiet enjoyment refers to a real estate law ensuring a landlord can’t restrict a tenant’s use of a property. You can’t disturb the tenant when they’re using the property for its intended purpose, and in return, the tenant must treat the property respectfully. 

This implied covenant of quiet enjoyment also applies when you buy a property with a tenant already living there. You must follow the terms of the lease until it expires and avoid interfering with the people who occupy the unit.

Landlords are responsible for handling any problems that arise in a multi-unit property. Noise complaints are the most common issue that occurs under these circumstances, and it’s up to the property owner to ensure all residents follow the rules and don’t disrupt others.

Rights the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment Protects

Landlords should thoroughly understand the rights the covenant of quiet enjoyment covers. Researching these protections can help you avoid problems in the future. The five primary protections are the following:

1. Privacy 

You must leave the tenant alone. The gist is that you can’t show up unannounced and walk into the home, as you only have legal permission to enter the property under specific circumstances or with the renter’s consent. 

2. Peace and Quiet 

Landlords must attempt to resolve any noise complaints between neighbors to ensure all residents have peace and quiet. Constant noise interrupts a tenant’s peace and quiet and constitutes a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. 

3. Freedom From Discrimination 

The tenant has the right to use the property how they wish without discrimination as long as they don’t violate the lease agreement, break the law, or disrupt other renters. You also can’t discriminate against a tenant because you don’t agree with their lifestyle choices or based on gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion. 

4. Safety and Security

Your tenants have the right to feel safe on the property. You must do everything possible to protect them from hazards and can’t threaten them for any reason. You’ll also have to intervene and provide a solution if another tenant threatens a resident. 

5. Basic Utilities 

You must provide tenants with electricity, water, and heat under these laws. The renter is permitted to seek damages from the landlord if you don’t offer these necessities throughout their tenancy. 

A breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment rules could land you in hot water and make you financially responsible for damages. Understanding your responsibilities makes it easier to stay on top of them and provide a solution when problems arise.

Four Things That Can Happen After a Breach of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

You should know how the process works when you fail to meet your obligations as a landlord. Every situation is different, but most breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment scenarios involve four steps. These steps include the following:

1. Tenant Delivers Written Notification 

A tenant might first discuss the situation with you verbally. The next step is to provide a written covenant of quiet enjoyment letter informing you of the breach. You’ll need to take this letter seriously because it’s the first step in escalating the situation.

2. Landlord Fixes the Problem

Your responsibility after receiving a covenant of quiet enjoyment letter is to remedy the situation. Your course of action will depend on the problem at hand, as it could be as simple as speaking with other tenants about the noise on the property or making some repairs. Failing to fix the problem within a predetermined period, typically 30 days, could lead to further escalation. 

3. Tenant Can Break the Lease 

The first thing that could happen if you don’t address the problem at hand is your tenant legally breaking the lease. This scenario is considered a constructive eviction where the landlord makes the property unfit for occupancy, forcing the tenant to leave. You won’t have much recourse if the tenant provides you with a letter beforehand and gives you time to address the problem. 

4. Tenant Can Sue

Your tenant can sue you for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Damages could cover things like moving expenses as the tenant relocates to a property with a more favorable living environment. The tenant could also seek reimbursement for any legal fees that arise throughout this process.

Having a tenant exit the property unexpectedly could put you in a challenging financial situation, and facing a lawsuit could create even more challenges. It’s best to stay on top of any issues at your rental properties before they get to this stage.

Get Help With Your Tenants

Managing tenant relationships can take significant work, and it’s easy to inadvertently escalate the situation if you don’t have experience with these scenarios. It’s often best to seek professional assistance with your rental properties to ensure your tenants are happy and able to use these homes as they see fit.

Nomadic Real Estate offers property management services in D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia. We understand how to de-escalate problems between tenants and know both landlord and renters’ rights, ensuring we don’t breach any laws as we manage your properties. Contact Nomadic Real Estate today to learn how our professional management team can minimize your stress as a landlord.

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.