Landlord Notice and delay in carrying out repairs
Most repairing obligations require (expressly or by implication) that the landlord has knowledge of disrepair within the demised premises before any liability arises. The most usual way of fixing the landlord with knowledge is to show that the tenant has given notice of the defect. However, it is also possible to establish knowledge indirectly. Where notice is required, the landlord then has a reasonable time within which to carry out the repairs before liability will arise. The requirement for notice does not apply if the defects are to parts of the building other than those demised, eg, to the outer walls and roof of a block of flats, or to common parts. Furthermore, the requirement of notice for cases brought within the Defective Premises Act 1972 is that the landlord knows or ought to know of the existence of a defect
O’Brien v Robinson [ 97 ] AC 9 2; [ 97 ] 2 WLR 9 ; [ 97 ] All ER 8 ; ( 97 ) HLR 7; ( 97 ) 2 P&CR 2 9, HL No liability arose until landlord had knowledge of defect
The tenant and his wife were in bed one night when the bedroom ceiling collapsed on them. The fall was caused by a latent defect. Neither the tenant nor the landlord was aware of the defect until the collapse occurred.
The House of Lords held that no liability under Housing Act 1961 s32 (now Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 s11) arose until the landlord had information about the existence of a defect in the premises which would put a reasonable person on enquiry about whether works of repair were needed. The landlord was only liable to repair the ceiling and not liable for damage resulting from the collapse.