Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

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When you take title to a new home, you expect that you will be able to enjoy the use of your home. If something goes wrong, you may assume that you have the ability to hold somebody else, such as the person who sold you the property, responsible. However, this is not always the case. The covenant of quiet enjoyment is an express promise that must be included in the deed that transfers title to a home. It is not a promise that can simply be inferred from the transfer of title. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston real estate lawyers can help you understand the scope of your obligations and rights when buying or selling a home.

The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment in Massachusetts

Covenants are promises to do something or refrain from doing something. Covenants of quiet enjoyment are found in both tenancy and real estate law. In both contexts, quiet enjoyment is the right to use and enjoy real property (by either a tenant or landowner) without interference from others. In the context of real estate law, the covenant of quiet enjoyment, if it exists, is found in the deed transferring title from the person who has title (the "grantor") to the person to whom title is being transferred (the "grantee"). In contrast, a covenant of quiet enjoyment is read into tenancy agreements between landlords and tenants.

A covenant of quiet enjoyment is considered a future covenant. Generally, when a seller provides a deed to a home to someone else, the seller does not retain control over the property. If the covenant of quiet enjoyment is included in the deed, it is in essence a warranty that the title of the land will be good against any hostile claims, such as liens, mortgages, or easements, by third parties against it. In connection with this covenant, the covenant of further assurances can help strengthen a covenant of quiet enjoyment because it means that the grantor is promising to defend the grantee in case a hostile claim is made against the grantee's title to real estate that arises from events that occurred some time before title was transferred.

In Massachusetts, a warranty deed includes a covenant of quiet enjoyment. The warranty deed transfers ownership and also makes multiple express promises, such as the promise that the grantor holds good title. For a buyer, this is the best type of deed to get. In contrast, a release deed does not include any specific covenants and does not warrant that a buyer will be able to enjoy title without any claims being brought against it. A release deed simply says that the grantor is giving whatever interest he or she has in the property, but no promises are made about the state of title. Often, release deeds are used to transfer property between divorcing spouses or in more informal transactions between family members.

Contact an Experienced Real Estate Lawyer in the Boston Area

The type of deed conveyed in a real estate transaction often determines which promises a grantor is making to a grantee. It can be difficult for laypeople on either side of a property transaction to fully understand the scope of their obligations or rights. Our experienced Boston real estate attorneys can help you negotiate a deed that includes a covenant of quiet enjoyment or other promises. Our firm also advises and represents buyers, sellers, and lenders in Cambridge, Somerville, New Bedford, and other cities in Massachusetts. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation with a property transactions attorney.