In an important Court ruling the tenant of a flat has won compensation from his landlord after tripping over an uneven paving stone whilst taking out his bins.
In the case of Edwards v Kumarasamy the tenant had an Assured Shorthold Tenancy of the flat and his landlord, the long leaseholder, was therefore subject to the implied repairing obligations contained within Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The tenant, however, had not notified his landlord of the defect which caused his accident, and the landlord therefore argued that he had had no reasonable opportunity to remedy the problem.
The tenant’s claim initially failed. However, in allowing his appeal, the Court of Appeal found that his landlord’s liability was not conditional on notice of the defect having been given. He was obliged to keep the premises in good repair ‘at all times’ and was in breach of that obligation the moment the defect occurred.
The Court acknowledged that tenants were likely to become aware of defects before their landlords and that its ruling conflicted with the views expressed by the authors of the leading textbook on dilapidations. Despite the authors’ ‘depth of scholarship’, the Court ‘respectfully disagreed’ with them.
This case highlights a residential landlord’s liability to his tenant where the tenant is injured due to defects in the premises. This is so even where the defect is not brought to the landlord’s attention.
The decision will also concern intermediate landlords, that is a landlord that has a long lease and sublets their property, as they can be held liable for the disrepair of common parts of the building that are the responsibility of the head landlord or freeholder to repair and maintain.
For any enquiries concerning property disputes please contact our Property Dispute Lawyer Holly Sadler on 01473 298193 or [email protected] who has experience at dealing with landlord and tenant issues.