Landlord Liability

December 17th, 2019 by James Goudie KC

Essex County Council v Davies (2019) EWHC 3443 (QB) mainly concerned the long established Cavalier v Pope principle that a landlord is not liable for injuries arising from a property having been let in a dangerous state. The nine claimants were employees and visitors at a College leased from the County

Council. They were exposed to very high levels of carbon monoxide caused by a catastrophic blockage in a boiler flue.   The County Council was the landlord of the College. The College was liable as employer, and under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, but the County Council was not an “occupier” and did not owe a duty of care, and was not liable, as landlord.   Cavalier v Pope could not be distinguished. Saini J observed, at paragraph 25, that the 1957 Act did not alter the rules of the common law as to the persons on whom a duty of care is imposed as an occupier, or to whom it is owed; and a landlord who lets premises to a tenant is treated as parting with all control and is not an occupier under the 1957 Act. (No case was pleaded in common law negligence or under the Defective Premises Act 1972.) Saini J further stated, at paragraph 26, that the rule in Cavalier v Pope, albeit controversial is a decision of the House of Lords and binding, and operates “even when a landlord undertakes to maintain the demised premises (and indeed if he makes regular use of his rights to enter and maintain a property)”.

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