According to the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), the principle of “quiet enjoyment” ensures that every BC tenant has the right to:
- reasonable privacy;
- freedom from unreasonable disturbances;
- exclusive use of their rental unit (except in situations where the RTA allows a landlord to enter); and
- use of common areas for reasonable purposes, free from significant interference.
A violation or “breach” of quiet enjoyment is most commonly associated with unreasonable noise, but can also include other disturbances such as excessive smoke, intimidation and harassment from the landlord or another tenant, and even repair work that takes away part of a rental unit for an extended period. According to Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Policy Guideline 6: “A breach of the entitlement to quiet enjoyment means substantial interference with the ordinary and lawful enjoyment of the premises…Temporary discomfort or inconvenience does not constitute a basis for a breach of the entitlement to quiet enjoyment.”
Quiet enjoyment gives you the right to be free from unreasonable disturbances – not all disturbances. For example, if you moved into an older apartment building, it would be reasonable to hear some noise from a child in the unit above you during the day, but unreasonable for the tenant next door to be regularly playing loud music past midnight.
Correcting a Breach
If you feel that your right to quiet enjoyment has been breached, contact your landlord in writing and give them a reasonable amount of time to correct the situation going forward. If the problem continues, you can apply for dispute resolution through the RTB to request an order that your landlord follow the law. Depending on the nature, length, and severity of the breach, you may also be entitled to monetary compensation. Claims about quiet enjoyment can be difficult to prove at dispute resolution, so do your best to gather clear and relevant evidence such as photos, videos, complaint letters, witness statements, and affidavit.
The police do not generally get involved in tenant-landlord disputes about quiet enjoyment. However, if your landlord or another tenant ever assaults you, threatens to assault you, forcibly enters your home, or otherwise puts you in danger, contact the police immediately.