• Send us a message

    Fill in our form and we'll get back to you as soon as possible

    Please enter name
    Please enter your telephone number
    Please enter your email address
    Please let us know which of offices would most convenient for you?
    Please enter the details of your enquiry
    Please enter the verification code
    Send us a message
  • Services for you
  • Services for business

Defective Premises and Landlords' Duties - Guideline Court of Appeal Ruling

Landlords have a legal duty to keep the premises they let to tenants in a safe condition and if they fail to do so can be held liable for any injury or loss that results.

Recently, a local authority was ordered to pay compensation to a council tenant who was injured whilst mowing her lawn. As she stepped onto a defective manhole cover, it gave way and she fell into the void beneath. The woman's claim (under Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972) was initially rejected by the court.

In upholding the woman's appeal against that ruling, the Court of Appeal found that the fact that the manhole cover was owned by a utilities company made no difference to the council's duties under her lease to maintain the interior and exterior of the property in a reasonable state of repair.

The manhole cover, which had been in place for over 40 years, posed a clear and obvious safety risk to the tenant and her two small children. The council should in all the circumstances have been aware of that risk and the Act therefore imposed upon it a duty to inspect the manhole cover regularly. The defect could readily have been detected by means of a simple pressure test. The woman was awarded just over £15,000 in damages.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.