The Practical Lawyer


Defective Premises Act – L liable

The CA has held that a social L was liable to a T for injury caused due to a faulty drain cover.

The Defective Premises Act 1972 imposes a duty of care on Ls to anyone who might reasonably expect to be affected by a defect in its premises. The duty arises if the tenancy agreement imposes an obligation on L to maintain and repair the premises or if the tenancy reserves the right for L to enter the premises to carry out repairs. Thus, it is a wide-ranging duty.

In a recent case, L was obliged to carry out repair to the structure and exterior of the property. The social T was injured when she stood on a corroded inspection cover. The cover was owned by Severn Trent Water. T successfully claimed against L for personal injury, loss and damage.

L did not prove that it had carried out a reasonable inspection of the drain cover – which would have revealed the problems with the drain cover.

The CA held that the 1972 Act did not impose a duty to implement regular inspections. However, if L knew of likely or known risks, then this was relevant when considering liability under the 1972 Act. The CA found that L had not taken reasonable care when conducting the inspections. The fact that L did not own the inspection cover did not reduce its liability to inspect it.

All Ls should take heed of the case where they have repairing obligations. Any inspections should be exercised with ‘reasonable care’ and steps taken to correct any obvious dangers. See Rogerson v Bolsover DC [2019] EWCA Civ 226.


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