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

The case of the dodgy banister

21 November 2012

It is common for tenants to make alterations to their properties. Generally these are approved by the landlord but not always.

A recent High Court decision is a reminder to landlords of the importance of checking their properties for any unauthorised alterations.

In the case, Hannon v Hillingdon Homes Limited, Ms Morrison was one of Hillingdon’s tenants. Some twenty years earlier, without consulting her landlord, she had removed all the banister rails and posts from the staircase in the property.

Mr Hannon was a heating engineer who visited the house on behalf of the landlord to mend the boiler. He fell over the side of the staircase, causing permanent damage to his ankle. As a result, the 46-year old lost his job and his income and he sued Hillingdon Homes, arguing that the house was defective. He referred in particular to the Defective Premises Act which, he said, imposed a statutory duty on the landlord to protect him from such defects.

The court agreed that the absence of banisters was a defect: a banister is an integral part of a staircase, which forms part of the structure of a property. In removing the banisters, Ms Morrison was in breach of the terms of her tenancy agreement. Although the landlord was unaware of what she had done, they were responsible for correcting the defect and were found liable to compensate Mr Hannon.

If you are in charge of premises, you need to carry out assessments of the potential dangers to individuals in your properties and make repairs. Even if the premises have been in the same state for a long time and there have been no mishaps, that does not let you off the hook for any accident that may happen in the future.

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

Contact us

Emma Thompson LLB (Hons)
View profile
Emma Thompson
Related services
Share this article
Resources to help

Related articles

An e-sign of the times?

Commercial property

Times are changing but there’s still a place for pen and ink when it comes to legal property documents, explains paralegal Yasmin Lewis. In the commercial property sector there is…

Yasmin Lewis LLB (Hons)

Trustees' duties & charity land: 6 frequently-asked questions

Commercial property

Getting the best deal for your charity, while complying with charity law, is part and parcel of being a trustee; but what are the legal requirements when it comes to…

Charlotte Brunsdon LLB, BA (Hons)

Buying a business or property in the hospitality & leisure sector?

Commercial property

Whether you’re a first-time business buyer entering into the leisure sector, or you’re an experienced hotelier embarking on your next acquisition, the importance of doing your legal ‘homework’ shouldn’t be…

Alasdair Garbutt LLB (Hons)
Contact us