Personal Injury Claims
Where there is a resident landlord then he is an occupier and in the same position as any other occupier. Therefore, if you are visiting rented premises which have a resident landlord, and have an accident that is not your fault, you may have a claim under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 as the landlord has a duty under that Act to take reasonable care for the safety of visitors using their premises. Under the same Act, if it is a child who has an accident, the landlord must be prepared for children to be less careful than adults, so in some situations liability may be established against a landlord for a child’s accident where, had the victim been an adult, the claim would have failed.
However, if the landlord lets only part of the building, and has retained other parts, he will be in control, for the purposes of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, of the un-let parts, for example the common parts of the building such as a central staircase , a common hallway etc., and, if you are visiting such a building and have an accident which is not your fault, again, the landlord may be liable under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, or in negligence.
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Remember that you can only claim what you can prove, so it is important that you take photographs of the scene of the accident, and provide us with a sketch plan and a detailed description of how the accident occurred, together with contact details for as many independent witnesses as possible.
When a landlord lets premises by a lease to a tenant [a non-resident landlord], he is presumed to have parted with control of the premises.
If a landlord does not occupy the building or land in question it may not be appropriate to allege negligence if an accident occurs as the landlord may not necessarily owe a duty of care to visitors. If, for example, the property is in a poor state of repair and the landlord knows, or ought to have known this, and as a consequence of the poor state of repair a window falls out injuring either a visitor or a tenant there may be a claim in nuisance.
Landlords are unusual in one respect - they may have a contractual liability to their tenants under the terms of the tenancy - there may be terms expressed or implied into the tenancy to keep the property in a state of repair. However, only someone who is a party to a contract can sue under it. Leases are contracts. An action against a landlord framed as a breach of an obligation under a lease will therefore only succeed if it is brought by the tenant.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 implies into contracts a duty to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property and to keep in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of gas, electricity , water, and sanitary conveniences, and to keep in good repair the installations for space heating and heating water. In certain circumstances if a tenant suffers an injury which was not their fault as a result of the landlord’s failure to maintain or repair any of the above named installations, the landlord may be liable. Again, a claim under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act is a claim in contract, so only a tenant could recover damages for a breach of the term resulting in injury.
To make a successful claim under the Landlord and Tenant Act a tenant should have previously notified the landlord of the defect and the landlord failed to carry out repairs. If the tenant subsequently suffered an injury as a result of the non repair, it is always helpful to have kept a record of the letter sent to the landlord, or keep a record of any witnesses who were present when you asked the landlord that the repairs be carried. This will help prove that the landlord had notice of the need for repair.
The Defective Premises Act also places obligations on a landlord to maintain or repair the premises. Where a tenant has failed to provide the landlord with notice of a defect concerning the exterior of the property, or any of the gas, water and electricity installations listed above, and the tenant is injured by the defect they may be able to rely on Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act, as this section imposes a duty on landlords to all persons who might reasonably be expected to be affected by defects in the state of the premises to take such reasonable care in all the circumstances to see that those persons are reasonably safe from personal injury, caused by the relevant defect.
The Environmental Protection Act may be applicable in certain circumstances where premises are in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.
As previously stated it is important to remember that you can only claim what you can prove, so take photographs of the accident scene, provide us with a sketch plan, and, where appropriate, contact details of independent witnesses. For fur further advice about making a compensation claim following an accident on private property, contact our Personal Injury Claims team.