When notice is not required to succeed in an injury claim against a landlord

PI_Justin_Crossley By Justin Crossley

Samuel Edwards v Baladas Kumarasamy [2015] EWCA Civ 20

Background

The Appellant, (Edwards) rented a 2nd floor flat by way of an assured short hold tenancy from the Respondent (Kumarasamy).  The Respondent was not the owner of the block of flats but had a long lease of the particular flat let to the Appellant.  The Appellant suffered injury when he tripped over an uneven paving stone in the pathway ,between the front door of the block and the communal bins.  The Respondent had received no notice of the defect prior to the accident.  This was accepted.

A  Deputy District Judge at first instance found that the paved area was part of the structure or exterior of the flat and awarded the Appellant damages for his injury. The Respondent appealed the DDJ’S decision.

On appeal the Judge held that the Respondent was not liable under the extended covenant implied in to the tenancy by virtues section 11 (1a) of the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985 because he believed it was a condition precedent for such a claim to succeed that the landlord had notice of the defect.

The Appellant appealed that decision arguing that liability arose as soon as the disrepair existed and notice was not, as the Judge had found, a condition precedent of such a  claim.

Appeal

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal.

The Court of Appeal distinguished between a landlord’s liability when a defect occurred within the demised premises itself.  In those circumstances a landlord would only be in breach of the repairing covenant (and therefore liable to compensate for injury) when they had actual notice as to the existence of the defect.  However, where a defect occurred to the external part of the building,, which was not demised to the tenant, the landlord was liable, even though he had no notice of the disrepair.

Comment

It’s not uncommon  for Defendant Insurers  to reject such claims on the basis that the landlord had no notice of the defect.  Such a defence should  only operate successfully when the defect which caused the accident existed within the tenants actual property.  This is common sense, given that in the absence of a complaint or a situation where  the landlord had the opportunity to inspect the inside of the property, there is no reason why the landlord should know of the defect.  However if the defect occurred outside the tenants property i.e. to a common part, such as a stairwell or an access path, then providing it can be deemed part of the structure or exterior, the landlord will  be liable for any injury even in the absence of notice.

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. […] Justin Crossley considered the circumstances When notice is not required to succeed in an injury claim against a landlord […]

  2. […] Crossley considered the circumstances When notice is not required to succeed in an injury claim against a landlord (February […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: