There are some instances when a landlord could be held liable for injuries suffered by a tenant (or a guest) while on the property. We explain everything you need to know below…
Landlords have a general duty of care to make sure the properties they rent are kept in a safe condition for their tenants. Not all tenant injuries are the fault of the landlord though, so it is important to know the difference and your responsibilities to avoid any expensive and damaging personal injury claims.
Negligence and a landlord’s duty to tenants
For a landlord to be deemed liable for an injury to a tenant, it must be shown that they were negligent in some way. Negligence is a legal concept that holds individuals accountable for any harm they may cause to other parties. To prove that a landlord has been negligent, a tenant is required to prove that the landlord failed to uphold their duty of care towards the tenant – which then resulted in an injury.
Duty of care, or ‘standard of care’, in this respect refers to the responsibilities of the landlord in terms of maintaining a safe property. Landlords are expected to make sure their property is safe to a reasonable standard.
If a landlord fails to meet the reasonable standard of care then they could be found to be liable for any injuries caused to tenants as a result.
The big question here for landlords is, what is meant by ‘reasonable care’? To determine if a landlord has acted reasonably, the courts will ask two questions:
1 – What would the average, reasonable landlord do in similar circumstances?
2 – Has the landlord demonstrated at least that average level of reasonable care?
In some cases, a court may find that the standard of care expected of a landlord should be greater than the average or ‘reasonable’ level. For instance if young children are involved, as they are less able to assess risks and avoid danger. Similarly, if you are renting to people who do not speak English as a first language it could be argued that, as the landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure warning signs are provided in the tenants’ language.
Similarly, a landlord could be held responsible for failing to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the property. New regulations regarding smoke alarms are now in force in the UK, requiring landlords to fit working smoke alarms on every storey of a rental property and Carbon Monoxide alarms in any room containing solid fuel appliances that is used as living accommodation. For more information read our guide: Are you properly alarmed?
Physical injuries to tenants
A landlord could be held liable for a physical injury to a tenant that was caused by the landlord’s failure to maintain the property to a reasonably safe level, or to make repairs in a timely fashion. For example, if a staircase has a faulty handrail and the tenant is injured as a result of falling down the stairs then the landlord could be found negligent.
However, this would only apply if the landlord was notified of the hazard and had a reasonable time to fix it.
The Defective Premises Act 1972 states the legal obligation for landlords to prevent their tenants from suffering injury from property defects. Some of the more common defects to be aware of include:
- Damaged floorboards
- Worn/loose carpets
- No handrails/damaged handrails on staircases
- Loose plaster – particularly on ceilings
Landlords are also responsible for any defects in communal areas of rental properties as well as those in outdoor areas e.g. potholes on a driveway.
What damages can tenants claim for?
If a landlord is found to have acted negligently and therefore liable for an injury suffered by a tenant, then the tenant can pursue a personal injury claim for compensation.
Depending on the nature of the injury and the individual circumstance, a compensation claim could include General Damages and Special Damages…
These relate directly to the pain, suffering and ‘loss of amenity’ caused as a direct result of the injury. This could include physical and/or emotional pain and suffering, loss of physical or mental ability, loss of quality of life and so on.
These deal directly with the financial impact the injury has had on the tenant, for example: loss of earnings, loss of earning potential treatment costs, rehabilitation costs etc…
The information in this article was supplied by Liverpool personal injury solicitor CL Legal.