Quick guide: Personal Injury Claims in Rented Properties

Posted Jun 12, 2018.
Do you live in a rented house or flat? If so, it is well worth learning about your rights as a tenant, particularly if you are unfortunate enough to suffer an injury in your home that is a result of your landlord’s negligence. Landlords have a general duty of care to provide a property that is safe to live in. Private landlords, local authorities, councils or housing associations may well be legally responsible for a personal injury in a rented home if a tenant is injured or made ill due to disrepair that the landlord was – or should have been - aware of, even if such safety issues pre-date a tenant moving in. 

Claiming for compensation

Under the terms of the Housing Disrepair Protocol 2003, a landlord must take immediate steps to rectify any dangerous defects at their property identified by a tenant. Such hazards must be addressed within 21 days, and repairs must be carried out within a reasonable amount of time. If they fail to do so and their tenant subsequently suffers an injury or develops an illness or health problem, the tenant will have the right to make a claim against their landlord for the injury or illness itself. A claim can also cover additional factors such as compensation for loss of earnings, cost of medical treatments, rehabilitation (such as physiotherapy and psychological help), damage to personal possessions and suitable adaptations that need to be made to the property. 

Most common injury causing defects

Most defects are covered by two important Acts of Parliament, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Defective Premises Act 1972. Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act requires that landlords must ensure that the overall structure and exterior of properties they own and rent out are kept in a state of good repair. A landlord can also be legally liable for injuries and illnesses caused by damp and mould if, for example, missing roof tiles or broken drainage causes a water leak into the property.   and also for injuries resulting from malfunctioning appliances such as gas boilers and immersion heaters. Landlords are also must ensure that internal appliances providing gas, electrics and water are all safe and functioning correctly. 

The Defective Premises Act 1972 is designed to provide guidelines and rules for landlords to maintain properties to a standard that helps prevent tenants and their families from being injured. As well as being responsible for each individual property and tenant, the landlord must also ensure that communal areas are properly maintained. Typical defects that can lead to an injury claim include stairs with missing or effective handrails, loose or missing floorboards, dangerously worn carpets, loose plaster on walls and ceilings and potholes and similar defects in communal areas.