Watch your step! Update on residential landlords’ liability to repair
In February 2015 the Court of Appeal decided in Edwards v Kumarasamy that the landlord was liable for injuries sustained by the tenant despite not having any notice of the defect which caused the tenant to trip and injure himself, as reported in Simon Jones’s blog in February 2015 (which can be read here).
Residential landlords can now breathe a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court has overturned that decision on the basis that the paved area did not fall within the scope of the repairing obligation imposed by section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The pathway did not form part of the “structure or exterior” of the part of the building in which the landlord had an estate or interest.
The case is fact specific and each case will turn on its own facts but, in a situation where neither the landlord not the tenant have possession of the common parts of a block, the Supreme Court held that there is an implied term that the landlord must have had notice of the disrepair before being liable for breach of a repairing covenant over those parts.
However, it might not always be clear whether a landlord must be given notice so it would be good practice for landlords to inspect their properties regularly and for tenants to notify their landlords if repairs are needed.
The full judgment can be read here.