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Liability for Disrepair

On 5 May 2016, the Supreme Court heard the appeal of a Landlord in Edwards v Kumarasamy (UKSC 2015/0095). The Court needs to consider whether a Landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy, was liable for his tenant’s injuries under the extended covenant implied into the tenancy by section 11(1A) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

The Supreme Court’s decision had not been released at the time of writing this blog.

The tenant, Mr Edwards tripped on an uneven paving slab between the front door of the building of flats and the communal bin area. The Landlord, Mr Kumarasamy claimed that he had no obligation to repair the path between the building and the bin area, since he did not own it. The Landlord was the leaseholder of the flat rented by Mr Edwards.

The Court of Appeal found that a landlord of a flat let under a tenancy was liable for disrepair of common parts of the building in which the flat was situated. This liability arose under section 11 even when Mr Edwards had not given notice of the disrepair.

The Court of Appeal found that the disrepair was not within the demised property, therefore the implied term that the tenant had to give notice of the disrepair was found not to apply. The disrepair was in a common area and knowledge of it would have been revealed had the landlord or his agents carried out inspections.

 

Many Landlords will be hoping that this decision is reversed by the Supreme Court. Until it is, Landlords are advised to carry out inspections or ensure that management companies are doing so and that they report any necessary repairs in common areas promptly in writing to the freeholder. Landlords of flats should also ensure that the freeholder’s insurance includes public liability cover.

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