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Landlord Legal Issues February 2015

Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law answers your questions

Q. My tenant broke his ankle when he fell after stepping on a cracked step leading up to the front door to the house he rents from me. I understand that part of the cracked step came away and he fell down the steps. Can he hold me responsible for this? I never had any notice of the cracked step otherwise I would have had it repaired.

A. It is an established fact that the steps leading up to the front door of a property are part of its 'structure and exterior' and are therefore covered under the landlords statutory repairing covenants under section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. So the only issue is that of notice.

This is very similar to the facts of a new case on landlords repairing obligations, Edwards v Kumarasamy. Here Mr Edwards fell and injured himself on an uneven paving stone on the path leading to the communal bins and car park.  

In this case the landlord also raised the defence that notice needs to be given before a landlord can be liable under his statutory repairing covenants. However, the Court of Appeal disagreed and held that although notice is needed when the disrepair is within the rented property (where the landlord does not have right of access) this is not the case where the disrepair is outside, as there is nothing to stop the landlord inspecting it and finding out for himself.

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