When it comes to personal injury claims directly related to a rented property it is understandable that many people are unsure about claiming compensation from their landlord. However, there are an array of legal obligations which landlords, whether private, local authority or housing association, need to abide by. If these are ignored by a landlord and as a consequence their tenant or visitors to the property are injured then they could be sued for compensation.
Landlord Legal Obligations
The legal obligations of landlords are defined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which is constantly being adjusted and amended to suit the modern era. Thankfully, the backbone of the act has remained relatively untouched so that both landlords and tenants are broadly aware of their obligations and liabilities. We will now take a look at some of these legal obligations and how they may impact the pursuit of personal injury claims against a landlord.
Upon moving into rented property the landlord should provide their tenant with:-
- An energy performance certificate for the property
- A gas safety certificate
- Copy of the government’s official how to rent guide
These are legal obligations which show that the property is both energy-efficient and has the relevant gas safety certificate. It may seem like simple “paperwork” but if any of these documents are not provided to a new tenant this can seriously undermine the landlord’s legal position in the event of accidents/injuries.
Maintenance And Repair
There are a number of potentially dangerous scenarios in the modern day home where gas, electric and potential structural damage can lead to injury or in some cases death. It is the legal obligation of the landlord to keep the property in good repair and ensure that regular maintenance is carried out. While some tenants may feel “responsible” for the upkeep of the property, their legal obligation is probably not as wide-ranging as they might assume.
Some of the more common areas covered under maintenance and repair include:-
- Roofs and chimneys
- Internal and external walls
- Water supply
- Gas supply
- Electricity supply
To the majority of people the maintenance and repair of the above issues seems fairly sensible and straightforward. Unfortunately, over the years we have seen rogue landlords refusing to carry out repairs, sometimes resulting in serious injuries and even death.
As a side note, if a landlord requires entry to a rented property they need to inform the tenant beforehand to ensure it is convenient. This is a legal protection for tenants!
Health And Safety Checks
There are also health and safety checks which must be carried out on a regular basis to ensure the property is as safe as possible. These include:-
- Gas safety check
A gas safety check must be carried out every 12 months by a registered Gas Safe engineer to ensure the gas supply and appliances are in good working order. In the event of an accident caused by a faulty gas appliance/supply where the gas safety check has not been carried out, the landlord would likely be held liable for any injuries and personal injury compensation.
- Electrical equipment
Many properties today are fully furnished with an array of electrical equipment. If the landlord supplies any electrical equipment it must be checked beforehand to ensure that it abides with safety standards. In houses of multiple occupation there is also a legal obligation to check the electricity supply every five years.
- Fire safety check
Under fire safety regulations it is the responsibility of the landlord to install a working smoke alarm on each floor of the property, provide a carbon monoxide alarm if a coal fire/wood burning stove is installed and also ensure that escape routes are clear (perhaps more relevant to larger properties). It is also important that all furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord are “fire safe” and in houses of multiple occupation a fire alarm and extinguishes must be available.
Interior And Exterior Structure
While it is fairly obvious that any structural issues inside a property must be addressed as soon as possible, the same goes for exterior damage which requires repair. Very often you will find that exterior damage, such as issues with a roof, can eventually lead to interior damage and expensive repair bills. The landlord’s liability to exterior repair and maintenance will also include issues with a driveway, garden shed, etc. There are numerous potential dangers in and around the family home especially where children are involved.
Common Injuries Involved In Compensation Claims Against Landlords
There are a number of common injuries associated with personal injury compensation claims against landlords which include:-
- Trips, slips and falls as a consequence of poorly fitted carpets, damaged flooring and unsafe stairways
- Cuts and abrasions where safety glass has not been fitted on internal doors
- Trips, slips and falls as a consequence of wet floors often caused by a leaking roof
- Carbon monoxide poisoning where gas fires, coal fires and wood-burning stoves have not been maintained correctly and no carbon monoxide alarm has been installed
- Concussion, cuts and abrasions as a consequence of substandard lighting
- Breathing difficulties as a consequence of damp/mould
While these are some of the more common injuries associated with personal injury claims against a landlord, this is by no means the full list. It is important to note that some injuries may occur instantly while others often associated with damp and mould, may take years to impact an individual’s health. As with any personal injury claim, the three-year window of opportunity in which to pursue compensation begins on the day a diagnosis is received.
Compensation Claims Against Private And Social Housing Landlords
There seems to be a general misconception amongst some tenants that the law differentiates between private and social housing (local authority/housing association owned properties). The fact is that all landlords have the same legal obligation to ensure the well-being and safety of their tenants. There is no differentiation between the type of landlord or property. It is also worth noting that while some people may feel uncomfortable pursuing compensation these can be wake-up calls for the landlord. Very often they will ensure that homes under their control are adequately maintained and repaired in the future. Yes, pursuing your compensation claim today could help to save lives tomorrow!
Can You Claim Compensation From Your Landlord?
As detailed above, there are a number of issues which landlords are legally obliged to review on a regular basis. For example, the annual gas check and five-year electricity supply check for houses in multiple occupation. There is also a legal obligation on landlords to investigate and where appropriate repair damage when they are made aware of the issue by a tenant. There is a reasonable timescale in which the repair should be carried out which often depends on the severity and potential danger. In the event of an injury, where action was being taken to address the problem, the landlord may argue they were acting appropriately to resolve the issue.
On the other hand, if the landlord failed to act on warnings given by the tenant, resulting in an accident/injury then there is every chance they would be held liable for personal injury compensation. There is no defence for landlords if they fail to carry out regular checks stipulated by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 causing subsequent accidents/injuries. Even though there is a general consensus amongst landlords that the legal protections have moved more in favour of tenants, this is not necessarily the case.
If you have been injured in some way due to the negligence of your landlord then you should get legal advice straight away as they may have to pay you compensation. You can call us now on 0800 652 1345 to get expert guidance and advice from a solicitor, free of charge.
The Law Is On Your Side
We can only estimate the number of perfectly legitimate personal injury claims which are not pursued against landlords due to tenant concerns about eviction. From a legal standpoint this should not be a consideration but from a practical standpoint it is understandable. However, for those caught in this type of situation it is worth noting that the legal protection afforded to tenants on this issue has increased dramatically in recent times.
The private and social housing sector is safer today than it ever has been although there are still some rogue landlords operating in the UK. There will likely be even greater emphasis on this issue going forward as the number of people renting property in the UK continues to rise as house prices move out of the reach of first-time buyers.
While historically some of the legal obligations afforded to landlords were fairly vague and difficult to prove in a court of law, this is not the case today. Tenants have a legal right to live in a property which is safe and secure and where the appropriate measures have not been taken to ensure their well-being, there may well be a case for compensation. As with any personal injury claim, the claimant needs to prove liability on behalf of one or more parties, at which point they can pursue compensation. Thankfully, the tightening of legal definitions and expanding of landlord obligations towards their tenants has proved helpful to those looking to right any wrongs.
Call us now or contact us by completing one of the forms on this page should you require expert advice from a personal injury solicitor about claiming compensation from your landlord.