The plaintiffs were tenants of the ground floor of a building. The defendants occupied the top floor. A rat gnawed through a box in which rain water was collected from the roof, causing a leak into the plaintiff’s property, causing damage. No negligence was shown.
Held: The defendant was not liable. He had not brought water to the place from which it escaped into the plaintiff’s premises. A rat gnawing a hole in a wooden gutter box counted as an Act of God.
Martin B said: ‘Now, I think that one who takes a floor in a house must be held to take the premises as they are, and cannot complain that the house was not constructed differently.’
Kelly CB, Martin B
 LR 6 Exch 217,  40 LJ Ex 120,  19 WR 723
England and Wales
Distinguished – Rylands v Fletcher HL 1868
The defendant had constructed a reservoir to supply water to his mill. Water escaped into nearby disused mineshafts, and in turn flooded the plaintiff’s mine. The defendant appealed a finding that he was liable in damages.
Held: The defendant . .
Cited – Transco plc v Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council HL 19-Nov-2003
Rylands does not apply to Statutory Works
The claimant laid a large gas main through an embankment. A large water supply pipe nearby broke, and very substantial volumes of water escaped, causing the embankment to slip, and the gas main to fracture.
Held: The rule in Rylands v Fletcher . .
Cited – Jackson v J H Watson Property Investment Ltd QBD 7-Jan-2008
The tenant claimant held under a 125 year lease of the defendant. A fault in a light well led to water ingress and damage. The fault was in the landlord’s land but not the flat. The tenant alleged a nuisance by the landlords. The landlord replied . .
Cited – Southwark London Borough Council v Mills/Tanner; Baxter v Camden London Borough Council HL 21-Oct-1999
Tenants of council flats with ineffective sound insulation argued that the landlord council was in breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment in their tenancy agreements.
Held: A landlord’s duty to allow quiet enjoyment does not extend to a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.188020