We continue to provide our legal services through the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit our COVID-19 Hub for legal insights, or contact us directly.
Get in Touch Menu

Landlords’ duty clarified

09 July 2007

When landlords have an express or implied right to enter premises to carry out repairs or maintenance, they have a statutory duty (The Defective Premises Act 1972) to take care that a lack of repairs/maintenance does not cause personal injury or damage to property.

If such a defect is the tenant’s fault, the landlord will not be liable to the tenant though he will be liable to others eg visitors to the premises.

For some time there has been concern that this duty could extend to latent defects and a recent case has clarified the position. It involved a tenant who suffered serious injuries when her arm went through a ribbed glass panel in the front door of her flat.

It was made of annealed glass, a material that was considered acceptable when the property was built but that has been recognised as a hazard since 1963. The landlord had never replaced the glass on the basis that it was neither damaged nor in disrepair.

The tenant argued that the landlord was liable because he knew of the hazard and should have fitted safety glass. Luckily for all landlords, the appeal court rejected this argument. They confirmed that the landlord’s statutory duty is to repair and maintain the property; it is not a duty to make safe.

The vast majority of leases do contain rights of entry for the landlord to carry out repairs (eg if the tenant fails to comply with his repairing obligations). Landlords should not be complacent about the state and condition of their properties even if the tenant is fully responsible for repair. Their statutory duties are owed to all third parties, not just to their tenants. There is no substitute for regular inspections to make sure properties are kept in good repair.

As always, if you need commercial and pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

Contact us

Alasdair Garbutt LLB (Hons)
View profile
Alasdair Garbutt
Related services
Share this article
Resources to help

Related articles

Land access for digital infrastructure is subject of new consultation

Commercial property

The government has opened a consultation to help them understand whether changes to the Electronic Communications Code are required. A government consultation is underway to review the legal framework for…

Alasdair Garbutt LLB (Hons)

COVID-19: a commercial property update for landlords & tenants

Commercial property

As you will be aware from some of our previous updates, a number of measures have been put in place to give businesses the breathing space and tools they need…

Emma Thompson LLB (Hons)

Legal perspectives on the Budget 2021


In the Chancellor’s first Budget speech last year, made as COVID-19 started to take hold in the UK, Rishi Sunak promised to do “whatever it takes to support the economy”.…

Contact us