A landlord’s failure to act can be a derogation from grant

Where a landlord lets part of his premises to a tenant he can be liable to that tenant for failing to take steps within his power to stop neighbouring tenants of his from causing a nuisance. A landlord can be liable for the actions of tenants who are under his control in the relevant respects.

In Chartered Trust plc v Davies ((1998) 76 P & CR 396, CA (Eng)) the defendant took a lease of a shop in a small, fairly cramped shopping mall. The landlord granted leases of neighbouring units to tenants who blocked the way to the shop and who ran their own business in such a way as to make it difficult for the defendant to run his business. This was a nuisance and amounted to non-derogation from grant: the premises had been let to the defendant for a particular purpose and the conduct of the neighbours made the property unfit for the contemplated purpose. The landlord was liable because he had the power (through the terms of the leases granted) to stop the behaviour complained of, but did nothing. This breach was a repudiatory breach.

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