Cockroach infestation: landlord liable in nuisance and negligence

In Sharpe v Manchester City Council ((1981 – 82) 5 H.L.R. 71, C.A. (Eng.) S was the tenant of a block of flats owned and managed by the Council. His flat suffered from an infestation of cockroaches from the time that he moved in. Eventually, he was forced to leave. The Council frequently visited his flat and sprayed it with a chemical to kill the cockroaches. This would work temporarily but the problem persisted. S had seen cockroaches enter through holes next to pipes. The Council refused, however, to treat the service ducts. They persisted in using a chemical even though a more satisfactory treatment was available at reasonable cost. This was because they wanted to use up their stockpiles of the chemical they were using. The English Court of Appeal held that their refusal to spray service ducts and their insistence on the less effective chemical despite the reasonably cheap availability of a better alternative meant that they had not taken reasonable steps to abate the nuisance. As a result, the Council was liable to S in nuisance and negligence.


2 Responses to “Cockroach infestation: landlord liable in nuisance and negligence”

  1. avocawho Says:

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.
    I’m surprised to learn that the Court of Appeal in England handles this kind of ‘trivial’ matters.

    • Michael Lower Says:

      Thanks for the comment. Of course the Court of Appeal are not only dealing with this dispute but also clarifying the relevant law for the whole of England and Wales. Also, this type of dispute is likely to occur quite often so it allows landlords and tenants to know where they stand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: