Court Success: A welcome result for Landlords

  • Zurich Municipal welcomes the court success of J Bainton v First Choice Homes Limited (Oldham County Court)
  • This claim in negligence was brought under Caparo v Dickman (1990)
  • The result is welcomed by landlords, which usefully clarifies the extent of their duties under the Defective Premises Act 1972

Zurich Municipal welcomes the court success of J Bainton v First Choice Homes Limited (Oldham County Court).

The claimant rented a flat from the defendant. She had difficulties with her mobility, requiring the assistance of a walking frame and as a result, the defendant had been asked to investigate assistance.

In May 2013, a plan was put in place to make the steps which led down to the doorway deeper and shallower, so to help the claimant negotiate them. These plans did not come to fruition and on 9th August 2013, the claimant had a fall on the steps.

District Judge Fox accepted that this was caused due to the steps not being deep enough for the full length of the frame to engage upon.

The Law

A claim in negligence was brought under Caparo v Dickman (1990). In this case, the House of Lords stated that for a negligence claim to succeed, three tests would have to be satisfied:

  • Damage must be reasonably foreseeable as a result of the conduct of the defender
  • The parties must be in a relationship of neighbourhood or proximity
  • It must be fair, just and reasonable to impose a liability on the defender

Breaches of the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Equality Act 2010 were also alleged. Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 imposes a duty on defendants to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances to see that tenants are reasonably safe from injury caused by relevant defects. Section 29 of the Equality Act imposes a duty on service providers to make reasonable adjustments for people with a disability.

Legal arguements

The claimants argued that a duty of care existed between the claimant and the defendant as per Caparo. They also alleged that the defendant was in breach of Section 11 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 in failing to protect the claimant from injury and that by not modifying the steps, they were negligent under Section 29 of the Equality Act 2010.

The Court’s decision

District Judge Fox outright rejected the claimants argument that a duty of care under Caparo existed in these circumstances and also rejected the Defective Premises Act 1972 argument on the basis that under the Act, there is no duty to rectify something which is not in disrepair. The Court also accepted the defendant’s argument that the Equality Act 2010 did not apply to the provision of accommodation.

This is a welcome result for landlords, which usefully clarifies the extent of their duties under the Defective Premises Act 1972.

This claim was handled by Richard Cole, a Senior Claims Handler from our Leeds office.