Supreme Court Overturns Appeal Ruling In Favour Of Landlord

Landlords are breathing a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Edwards v Kumarasamy.  The tenant, Mr Edwards, tripped on some uneven paving on the communal pathway whilst taking rubbish out and injured his hand and knee.  He sued the landlord for not taking proper care of the building. He won his case and was awarded £3,750.  The Court based this on the law which states that the landlord is responsible for keeping the interior and exterior of the rented premises in good repair.  However, the landlord appealed and the award was overturned.  Not satisfied with this, the tenant then went to the Court of Appeal who found in his favour. This then raised the question should agents and inventory clerks be inspecting not just a rented flat, but the common parts as well? Should a landlord be responsible for an item of repair that was (a) not in the rented property and (b) of which he had had no notice of?

In May this year, the Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal and came down in favour of the landlord.  Lord Neuberger ruled that for disrepair issues a landlord could only be held responsible for those items of which he had had notice.  Logically, this would apply to the common parts but the Court also queried whether the pathway to a block of flats could logically be described as the exterior of the property.  Whilst the previous cases had held that the steps to the building are part of the exterior, Lord Neuberger thought it too much to apply this to a pathway. The other members of the Supreme Court agreed and the judgment has been passed into English law.

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