The obligation of the landlord to protect his tenant relative to the tenant's right to quiet and peaceful possession and enjoyment extends only to evictions and disturbances caused by himself or by someone with a paramount title. Thus a hindrance of that enjoyment by a mere intruder is no ground of action for breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment.
Plaintiff landlord asserted that defendant lessees unjustifiably abandoned the leased premises, and the lessees brought a counterclaim that they were constructively evicted because of the landlord's breach of the covenant of peace and quiet enjoyment. Defendant lessees, who operated a miniature golf course, maintained that the intrusion and continued presence of trespassers on the leased premises, which was part of a large shopping center, and on the adjoining areas discouraged attendance at their establishment and forced them to close. Groups of people would come on the premises even though they did not play. The lessees did not have the right to quit possession unless some act of the plaintiff landlord rendered the premises uninhabitable, resulting in a constructive eviction. The court entered judgment in favor of the landlord and granted damages for the loss of rental and entered judgment in favor of the landlord on the lessees' counterclaim.
Were defendants constructively evicted due to landlord's breach of the covenant of peace and quiet enjoyment?
The court held that a disturbance or entry by a mere intruder was not sufficient to constitute a breach of a covenant of quiet enjoyment. The court further held that because interference with the lessees' tenancy was not done with the landlord's knowledge, permission, or direction, the landlord was not liable for the actions of the intruders. The court found that the landlord took adequate preventive measures to minimize loitering, damage, or injury to the lessees and their business by employing security guards for the mall.