Defective Premises Act—landlords' liability
Defective Premises Act—landlords' liability

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Defective Premises Act—landlords' liability
  • When does the landlord's duty apply?
  • Duty to tenants, third parties and trespassers
  • The need for disrepair
  • Knowledge or notification?
  • Works carried out during the tenancy

A landlord's liability to a tenant for the state and condition of premises is generally determined by the terms of the tenancy. However, under Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA 1972) the landlord owes a duty to all persons who might reasonably be expected to be affected by defects in the state of the premises to take reasonable care to see that they are safe from:

  1. personal injury, or

  2. from damage to their property

caused by ‘a relevant defect’.

The duty is to take reasonable care in all the circumstances, as with the common law duty of care and the ordinary law of negligence.

The 'premises' referred to in DPA 1972 are the parcels of the demise and include ancillary parts of the property. The landlord is liable for parts of the building which are necessary for the convenience of all tenants and which the landlord is assumed to retain in his own possession and control.

In Rogerson, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the fact the defective manhole cover was the property of the local sewerage undertaker did not affect the landlord’s liability to the tenant. If it needed to call in the undertaker to carry out any necessary inspection or work, that was no concern of the tenant.

DPA 1972 is generally more relevant to third parties (trespassers, visitors etc) as tenants' contractual remedies tend