Case law: Landlord not liable for injury at defective premises where reasonable inspection would not have revealed defect
Landlords should ensure they carry out (and record) reasonable inspections of let premises for visible evidence of possible defects, to avoid potential liability for injuries under defective premises law, a recent ruling makes clear.
This update was published in Legal Alert - August 2016
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A residential council tenant was injured when a hole opened up in her garden while she was hanging up washing. This was probably an underground void created by erosion from a defective (broken) underground drainpipe. She claimed damages under defective premises law.
Where a landlord has a legal duty to repair or maintain a property, or a right to enter property to carry out repairs, it must ensure users of that property are reasonably safe from personal injury from defects. However, a landlord is only liable if it knows, or in all the circumstances ought to have known, of the relevant defect.
The High Court ruled that the broken drainpipe was a relevant defect, but the landlord was not liable because:
- There was no indication of any problem in the garden
- Even if there had been a reasonable inspection, the void would not have been discovered
The landlord neither knew nor, in all the circumstances, ought to have known, of the relevant defect.
- Landlords should ensure they carry out (and record) reasonable inspections of let premises for apparent evidence of possible defects to avoid potential liability for injuries under defective premises law
Case ref: Lafferty v Newark & Sherwood DC (2016) EWHC 320 (QB)
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