In Sternbaum –v- Dhesi  EWCA CIV155, a tenant sued a landlord in negligence and for breach of Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972. The Court of Appeal has found that a landlord was not liable when one of its tenants fell down a staircase without a handrail or banister.
At the date of the Tenancy Agreement, the staircase in the demised premises was steep (the property was Victorian) and there was no handrail or banister fitted. There were indications that a banister might have been removed at some stage of the property’s history.
Despite the Tenancy Agreement requiring the landlord “to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the premises” and the tenant being obliged to permit the landlord to enter the premises for the purpose of inspection and repair, the Court found in favour of the landlord.
The Court of Appeal stated that a duty to repair and/or maintain could not be equated with a duty to make safe.
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