What Does Quiet Enjoyment Mean Anyway?

Written by: Jesse Zelisko

Despite what one may think, the covenant to provide quiet enjoyment to a tenant under a lease has little to do with noise or pleasure derived from having the lease. This covenant has been used in conveyances and leases of English land for centuries, and these terms originate from a time when in the context of conveyancing, “quiet enjoyment” had a technical meaning. So what is this technical meaning?

The meaning of “quiet” was clarified by Justice Kekewich in the 1888 UK decision Jenkins v. Jackson. According to Justice Kekewich, “When a man is quietly in possession it has nothing whatever to do with noise . . . “Peacefully and quietly” means without interference – without interruption of possession.

The meaning of “enjoy” has similarly been clarified by Lord Justice Pearson in the 1963 UK decision Kenny v. Preen. According to Lord Justice Pearson, the word “enjoy” in this context refers to the exercise and use of the right and having the full benefit of it, rather than to deriving pleasure from it.

Key Takeaway

Based on the foregoing, the covenant for quiet enjoyment is a covenant that the tenant’s lawful possession of the land will not be substantially interfered with by the acts of the landlord or those lawfully claiming under them.