Tenantís back injury after slip was not landlordís fault
By Simon Thompson
Maintenance and repair of rented homes is a major cause of friction between landlords and tenants - but the latest case to go before a judge at the High Court goes a long way towards clarifying responsibilities.
The judge heard that landlord Joanna Hedges let a mid-terraced three-floored Victorian house to Gillian Drysdale.
The landlord had painted steps to the front door with a semi-gloss paint which the tenant slipped on when carrying a box backwards up the steps in the rain with her fiance. At the side of the steps was a small wall, and below that were more steps down to a basement.
The tenant fell over the wall in to the basement, hurting her back.
She sued the landlord for damages, claiming the steps were too slippery because of the type of paint and poor maintenance. She also argued the wall between the steps and the basement was not high enough to stop someone falling over.
The High Court considered three points of law -
● Section 2 Occupiers Liability Act 1957, which states the occupier owes a duty of reasonable care towards any visitor for their safety while on premises
● Section 4 Defective Premises Act 1972, which says a landlord who is contractually obliged to maintain or repair premises should take care to make sure everyone visiting the premises is reasonably safe
● Breach of a common law duty of care - A landlord letting property in a dangerous condition owes neither a duty to remedy the defect nor a duty of care to any third party who might be injured [Cavalier v Pope  AC 428]
The court dismissed the claim, ruling the landlord had no liability under the first point because she was not the occupier of the steps at the time of the accident nor under the second because the wall was not in need of repair and was the same height as it had always been, nor were the steps in need of repair and the landlord had no duty to put up a handrail.
The common law claim also failed because the landlord had not made the steps dangerous by painting them, even though the rain may have increased the risk of slipping.
Ever since the autumn statement in 2016, the potential impact of the tenant
fee ban has received widespread coverage. While many tenants were positive
about the changes it did present the prospect of a major change for the