In an important ruling – which extends the potential liabilities of residential landlords to tenants who are injured due to defects in the premises – a flat tenant has won compensation after tripping over an uneven paving stone whilst taking out his bins.
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 latter therefore argued that he had had no reasonable opportunity to remedy the same.
The tenant’s damages 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. The tenant’s damages payout had earlier been assessed at £3,750.