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Landlord insurance case rocks certainty

The latest legal case to unsettle the traditional certainties of a landlord’s world is the case of Edwards vs Kumarasamy. Heard at the court of appeal, the case has turned the conventional thinking regards responsibilty as outlined by Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 on it’s head.

Formerly, where leasehold property was involved, if an incident occurred outside the direct area of control ( the demised area) then there would be no liability for the leaseholder should there be any injury to an individual.

However, the precedent set by this case has unsettled this assumption, with injuries to a tenant resulting from disrepair although ouside of the demised area, still be judged as the responsibility of the leaseholder. ( in this case an uneven outdoor path leading to the bins of a freefhold block of flats )

The facts of the Edwards vs Kumarasamy case

Mr Edwards (the tenant) was taking his rubbish to the communal bins at the shared block of flats where he rented, when he tripped on a raised paving stone. Mr Kumarasamy ( the landlord ) claimed the uneven paving stone fell outside his obligations as set out in Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act, 1985, and that furthermore the tenant had given him no notice of the paths dangerous disrepair.

Lord Justice Lewison’s findings

Prior to this case it was assumed that the leaseholders responsibility to any injuries to the tenant would only extend to areas where the lessor had an estate or interest. The Judge Lord Justice Lewison considered Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act.

In this case he found that a path over which the landlord had right of access over by means of a covenant had sufficient "estate or interest" to make the landlord (leaseholder) responsible for the injuries sustained by the claimant.

A landlord’s nightmare

It’s a landlord’s nightmare to be sued by a tenant or even a third party for an injury sustained whilst on their property. This case appears to have widened a landlord’s responsibility to include a whole load of leaseholders.

Landlords actions:

Make sure that you are fully insured.
Leaseholders need to understand their lease to be clear where the extent of their ‘estate and interest’ might extend.
It puts a greater responsibility on landlords to ensure that areas of the property are safe even where they are clearly outside the extent of the property rented under any particular Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

To read the full judgment on the case of Edwards vs. Kumarasamy

To obtain expert advice on landlord insurance including full cover options or phone our landlord insurance partner – Alan Boswell on 01603 218000

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