Case law: Landlords may commit environmental offences if departing tenants leave unauthorised waste on site
Landlords should be aware that they and their officers may be guilty of environmental offences, for example, carrying on a waste operation without a permit, if a departing tenant leaves unauthorised waste on the site, and the landlord knows about it but does nothing to prevent it or deal with it - a ruling makes clear.
This update was published in Legal Alert - July 2018
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A tenant operating a mattress recycling business was served with an Environment Agency enforcement notice because it did not have an environmental permit or a waste exemption. It ceased trading and quit the site. It left unauthorised waste comprising more than 20,000 mattresses – about 471 tonnes of waste – which remained on site for almost ten months.
The landlord company and its director were convicted in the Magistrates' Court of knowingly permitting a waste storage operation without a permit.
The company and director appealed on grounds there was no continuing 'waste operation' under the relevant rule, and they could not have 'knowingly permitted' the operation because they had not carried out any positive act in relation to the mattresses – they merely knew there was a waste operation on the site.
The High Court ruled that the storage of the mattresses was within the definition of a waste operation, and the landlord and director could be knowingly permitting the offence to take place simply by knowing the mattresses were on site without authorisation, and taking no steps to sort the matter out.
- Landlords should be aware that they and their officers may be guilty of environmental offences, eg carrying on a waste operation without a permit – if a departing tenant operates without a waste permit and leaves unauthorised waste on the site - and the landlord knows about it but does nothing to prevent it or sort it out
Case ref: Stone and Salhouse Norwich Ltd v Environment Agency  EWHC 994
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