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Nuisance landlord held liable

Brumby v Octavia Hill Housing and Care [2010] EWHC 1793 (QB)

Ms Brumby, an assured tenant of Octavia Hill Housing Trust, had an unusual claim against her landlord for nuisance. The final outcome of this case will have repercussions for future claims of a similar nature.

The landlord retained ownership of common areas including the ground floor entrance, hall, stairwell and a paved area running along the front of Ms Brumby’s ground floor flat and passing directly outside her living room window.

With no gate preventing access to this paved area, visitors to another tenant in the same block often congregated there. Having reported her problem to the Trust, Ms Brumby issued proceedings for nuisance and breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment. She claimed that, over a period of four years, the Trust had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the nuisance caused by the anti social behaviour of these visitors.

The Trust argued that it could only be liable if it had actively encouraged or allowed the nuisance. When the County Court judge dismissed the Trust’s application to strike out the claim, and allowed the nuisance claim to proceed, the Trust appealed to the High Court.

The appeal was unsuccessful with the High Court finding that whether or not the landlord had allowed the nuisance was a question of fact to be determined at trial, and allowed the case against the landlord to proceed.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Lou Crisfield, Miles & Partners Solicitors, London