Landlord Held Liable for Defects Outside of a Flat

19/02/15. The recent Court of Appeal case Edwards v Kumarasamy [2015] EWCA Civ 20 may well have raised a few eyebrows. In particular it held a landlord liable for an injury sustained outside of the flat in question and also despite the fact that the landlord had not had any notice of the defect. The background to this was that the claimant and his partner had an assured shorthold tenancy on a second floor flat from the defendant. One evening in 2010 whilst he was taking rubbish out he tripped on an uneven paving stone and injured his knee. The stone in question was on a pathway going from the front door of the block to the bins in the car park. Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 implied a repairing obligation on the landlord. The first question was whether this extended to the pathway outside of the flat? To this the Court of Appeal answered in the affirmative. The point was whether, for the purposes of section 11, the landlord had an estate or interest in this land and the Court held that the landlord’s right to use various areas outside of the flat took effect as legal easements giving him the requisite estate or interest. But even if this was the case, what about the fact that the landlord hadn’t had any notice of the defect in question? The answer to this rested on the fact that the path was not inside the demise of the tenancy and so no notice was required. This case might take some landlords by surprise and they may well wish to review exactly what their obligations are in each particular tenancy and also to check that their insurance policies cover these obligations. As for private tenants, it helps to clarify the position as to the potential liability of their landlord as well as giving some assistance as to the legal rights which they may have over areas outside of a flat.

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