Forbes' Appeal Success - Claimant fails to put a new slant on the Defective Premises Act

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31 January, 2017

Masters-Anthoni v Coast and Country Housing Limited

Middlesbrough Appeals Centre

The Claimant alleged that when she moved into a rented property a number of paving slabs were stacked together and leaning against a fence, a month later the Claimant fell over the paving slabs and sustained an injury.

The Claimant argued that in failing to remove or render the paving slabs safe prior to tenanting the property the Defendant had breached s.4 DPA and of s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 in addition to common law negligence.

Upon reviewing the facts and serving the Defence, the Defendant determined that the claim was bound to fail and invited the Claimant to discontinue her claim. The Claimant declined and the Defendant therefore made an Application to strike out the claim. Unfortunately, at first instance the Judge made a significant error of fact and wrongly concluded that the wording of the tenancy agreement which allowed the Landlord a right of enter to 'carry out works' to the 'home' could extend the obligations owed by a landlord under the DPA above and beyond 'maintenance or repair'. The Application was dismissed. An Appeal was immediately lodged and at the Appeal Hearing the Defendant succeeded and the matter was duly struck out.

The Appeal judge found that:

  • the slabs did not form part of the pathway; and
  • the slabs leaning against the fence was not a relevant defect.

Forbes comment

This case stands as a firm and helpful reminder that the wording of a tenancy agreement cannot serve to extend or modify the obligations owed to a tenant by a landlord under the DPA over and above a failure to repair and/or maintain the premises. A 'relevant defect' for the purposes of the DPA must arise out of a failure to repair or maintain the premises, which essentially means the failure to put right something which has broken. The removal of the paving slabs did not constitute the failure to maintain any more than if a bucket or a spade had been left in the Claimant's garden.

For more information contact Hayley Lloyd-Henry in our Insurance department via email or phone on 0113 386 2701. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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Defect Not an Accident Waiting to Happen

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