There is a constructive eviction where the premises are rendered useless to the tenant or the tenant is deprived, in whole or in part, of the possession ad enjoyment as a result of the willful or wrongful act of the landlord. It has also been said that the act of the landlord must be wrongful, evidencing an intention on his part to deprive the tenant of the use of the demised premises. Such intention, however, may be inferred from acts of the landlord justifying or warranting the tenant in leaving the premises. Where the landlord authorizes one tenant to do upon the premises acts whose natural consequence is to injure another tenant, there is a constructive eviction.
The landlord sued the tenant for the nonpayment of rent on their lease, and the tenant claimed the defense of constructive eviction. The tenant, who operated a business from the premises, argued that the landlord breached the lease by renting rooms in the building to persons who used musical instruments, thus depriving the tenant of the quiet enjoyment of the premises leased to it and resulting in the loss of business. The relevant portions of the lease hold that “no person shall disturb the occupants of this or any adjoining building or premises by the use of any musical instrument, unseemly noises, whistling, singing or in any other way” and allow the landlord to reserve the right to make reasonable rules and regulations.
Absent the intention of the landlord to deprive a tenant of the use of the premises, is there a constructive eviction?
As a general rule, a landlord is not responsible for the conduct of tenants acting within their rights in their own premises. The rules in the lease are simply restrictions for the regulation of tenants and are not covenants on the landlord. In this case, that the landlord permitted other tenants to use musical instruments does not justify an inference that it was the landlord’s intention to deprive the defendant of the use of the premises.