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:
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.
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