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Case law: Landlord guilty of environmental offences after tenant left unauthorised waste on site

Landlords should be aware that they and their officers may be guilty of environmental offences, such as knowingly permitting the keeping of unauthorised waste on their land if a tenant leaves unauthorised waste on the site, a ruling makes clear.

January 2019

This update was published in Legal Alert - January 2019

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

A company tenant leased a site from which it ran a wood recycling business. Its directors told the landlord they had the necessary waste permits, but they stored far more than the 1,000 tonnes of waste allowed. The waste also included metal, plastic, plasterboard and mattresses. No waste ever actually left the site, and around 10,000 tonnes built up throughout the tenancy.

When one of the directors was sent to prison on unrelated charges, the landlord locked the gates and the tenant had to cease trading. The landlord asked another recycling business to remove the waste but was told it would cost £750k.

There was then a fire at the site which took five days to contain. The fire service estimated its costs to be £28,000.

The Environment Agency took action against the landlord for knowingly permitting the keeping of controlled waste on land without an appropriate environmental permit, in a manner likely to pollute the environment or harm human health. The landlord was convicted and had to pay compensation, fine and costs totalling more than £12k. He also faces a legal action requiring him to clean up the site.

In this case it was the tenant who left waste on the site, but the ruling demonstrates that landlords may also be held liable for environmental offences where, for instance, there is unauthorised waste on their land.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Landlords should be aware that they and their officers may be guilty of environmental offences if a tenant operates without a waste permit and there is unauthorised waste on the site; and should carry out reasonable checks on prospective tenants and regularly inspect their property for evidence of unauthorised waste operations

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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