Quiet enjoyment: landlord’s liability for acts of those claiming under him

A landlord can be in breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment because of the actions authorised by him or those claiming under him.

In Sanderson v Berwick-Upon-Tweed ((1883 – 84) L.R. 13 Q.B.D. 547, CA (Eng) D let a farm to S and another farm, lying above S’s farm, to C. D granted C a right to use the drainage system that ran under S’s farm. C twice caused damage to S’s farm. First through an excessive use of the drains and secondly though a normal use of the drains. On the second occasion the damage was caused because of defects in the drainage system. S brought proceedings in respect of the damage caused on both occasions relying on the covenant for quiet enjoyment.

S succeeded in respect only of the damage caused on the second occasion. D was liable here because C claimed under him and had acted in a way authorised by the easement granted by D.

‘[I]t appears to us to be in every case a question of fact whether the quiet enjoyment of the land has or has not been interrupted; and where the ordinary and lawful enjoyment of the demised land is substantially interfered with by the acts of the lessor, or those lawfully claiming under him, the covenant appears to us to be broken, although neither the title to the land nor the possession of the land may be otherwise affected.’ (per Fry L.J. at 551).

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