If a tenant living in a property is injured, who is at fault? Is the landlord to blame, and if so, can the tenant make a claim against the property’s owner?
A duty of care
A landlord has a general duty of care to their tenants, as defined in the Defective Premises Act 1972. They must ensure the property is free from any danger that could cause injury, thus they must maintain the property and make any required repairs in a timely manner.
The tenant’s duty
The tenant must inform the landlord of any repairs that may be required, otherwise they cannot reasonably expect the landlord to arrange repair or replacement.
Certain items that can cause injury include, but are not limited to, damaged flooring such as broken floorboards or loose carpeting, lack of useable handrail on a staircase, and loose plasterwork on the walls or ceiling. Outside, as well as in communal areas like hallways or stairs, landlords are also responsible for safety. Thus, issues like potholes on the driveway must be attended to.
Fit for human habitation
The property also needs to be in a habitable state. This means that if there is a pest infestation, severe mould or damp, no safe water supply or it gets far too hot or cold, it may not be deemed fit to live in.
Tenants also have a duty to report any issues that need attention, as well as to look after their home correctly, such as by using fitted extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen.