Posts Tagged ‘landlords’

Landlord’s liability for his tenant’s nuisance

October 6, 2014

In Coventry v Lawrence (No 2) ([2014] UKSC 46) one question was whether a landlord was liable for its tenant’s nuisance (see Coventry v Lawrence). Lord Neuberger (with whom Lord Clarke and Lord Sumption agreed) took as his starting point the statement of Lord Millett in Southwark LBC v Mills that:

‘The person or persons directly responsible for the activities in question are liable; but so too is anyone who authorised them. Landlords have been held liable for nuisances committed by their tenants on this basis. It is not enough for them to be aware of the nuisance and take no steps to prevent it. They must either participate directly in the commission of the nuisance, or they must be taken to have authorised it by letting the property: see Malzy v Eichholz [1916] 2 KB 308 .’ ([2001] 1 AC 1 at 22).

Did the letting amount to an authorisation of the nuisance?

The letting itself did not amount to an authorisation since the nuisance was not an inevitable result of the letting ([15]).

Had the landlord actively or directly participated in the nuisance?

This is largely a question of fact ([19]). Did the landlord’s leading role in trying to prevent the local authority from taking action in respect of the noise and in defending the nuisance claim amount to participation? This was not the case since this was a justified measure taken by the landlord to protect the value of his reversion ([24]).

Dissenting on this issue, Lord Carnwath and Lord Mance thought that the landlord’s role did amount to participation in the nuisance:

‘What is required in my view is a broad, common-sense judgment, based on the facts as a whole, as to whether there was such active involvement by the landlord in the offending activities as to make him jointly responsible in law for their consequences.’ ([59]).

He was of the view that the landlord’s actions amounted to ‘active encouragement of the tenants’ use and direct participation in the measures and negotiations to enable it to be continued. ‘ ([64]).

Michael Lower




No liability to tenant in nuisance where landlord lacks possession or control of neighbouring property

November 26, 2013

In Habinteg Housing Association v James ((1995) 27 HLR 299, CA (Eng)) HHA owned an estate. J was HHA’s tenant in a flat on the estate. The flat had its own separate entrance and there were no common parts. HHA covenanted to keep the structure and exterior in repair. J covenanted to give HHA access if necessary for the purposes of complying with the repairing covenant. J’s property suffered from an infestation of cockroaches for around six years until HHA took remedial action. J suffered damage valued at GBP 10,0000.

It was held, however, that there was no basis on which HHA was liable to J.

J sought to rely on the principle in Wringe v Cohen ([1940] KB 229). Waite LJ accepted that it was possible that the principle could be extended to read:

‘If a person suffers injury to their person or property as a result of a nuisance of any kind emanating from premises in the ownership of another person, that owner will be liable, notwithstanding that his premises may be let to, and occupied by, a tenant, if the owner has retained sufficient control under the terms of the tenancy to give him the power to step in and abate the nuisance.’ (at 305).

Even then, however, it would not apply to the facts of the case since (a) it had not been shown that the cockroach infestation had started in any property of the landlord’s and (b) the landlord did not have a sufficient degree of control over the rest of the estate for the principle to operate.

Michael Lower