McCarrick v Liverpool Corporation: HL 1947

Premises’ Defect – No Notice Liability on L

The tenant’s wife was injured falling from defective stone steps leading from the kitchen to the back kitchen of the house. Under section the 1936 Act, the judge found the house not to have been kept in the state required. No notice of want of repair was given to the landlords. They had a statutory right of entry to view the state of the premises. The defects were clear, and the tenant would be aware of them, and the landlords also if they had exercised their right of entry. T argued that since L had a right of entry, and the Act made no provision for notice, the duty imposed was absolute by analogy with the Factory Acts, and that the effect of the legislation should not be minimised or neutralised by introducing notions inspired by the old law.
Held: The decision in Morgan was correct. A landlord was not usually liable to his tenant unless he had received from him notice of a defect.
Lord Thankerton said that the effect of section 2(1) of the Act of 1936 was to incorporate the prescribed condition in the contract so that it became an integral part of it and the statutory origin of the condition did not differentiate it, in any question of construction, from any of the conventional stipulations in the contract: it followed, therefore, that a condition as to notice of the material defect (established by a long line of authority) fell to be implied.
Lord Porter said that whatever view might have been taken of the section if no previous history lay behind it it had to be remembered that similar provisions in earlier Acts had been interpreted as only requiring the landlord to repair after notice. It was too late to re-interpret its meaning.
Lord Simonds (concurred in by Lord Thankerton and by Lord Macmillan) said after reviewing the authorities that he clearly thought that the provision which the Statute imported into the contract of tenancy fell to be construed in the same way as any other term would be construed and that the correct construction of the provision was that no obligation was imposed on the landlord unless and until he had notice of a particular defect.
Lord Uthwatt said that it was an implied term (resulting from the comprehensiveness of the statutory term and the circumstances necessarily involved in the tenancy) that in a case where the tenant knows the defect and the landlord does not, the obligation to do a specific act directed to repairing the defect does not arise until at least the landlord becomes aware of the need for it.

Lord Thankerton, Lord Porter, Lord Simonds, Lord Macmillan, Lord Uthwatt
[1947] AC 219
Housing Act 1936 2
England and Wales
ApprovedMorgan v Liverpool Corporation CA 1927
The tenant claimed that he had been injured when as the upper portion of a window was being opened one of the cords of the window sash broke and the top part of the window slipped down and caught and injured his hand. The plaintiff admitted that the . .
DisapprovedFisher v Walters KBD 1926
T complained of being injured when the ceiling fell in the house. The defect was latent.
Held: L was not liable without notice of the defect. . .

Cited by:
CitedO’Brien v Robinson HL 19-Feb-1973
The plaintiffs sought damages after being injured when the ceiling of their bedroom fell on them. They were tenants of the defendants.
Held: The 1961 Act implied a duty on L to keep in repair the structure. What was meant by ‘keep in repair.’ . .
CitedSykes v Harry and Trustee of Estate of Harry, a Bankrupt CA 1-Feb-2001
The tenant appealed dismissal of his claim for damages. He had suffered serious injury after inhaling carbon monoxide fumes from a defective gas fire. The fire had not been maintained and a fall of soot eventually prevented the escape of fumes.
CitedEdwards v Kumarasamy SC 13-Jul-2016
The claimant sub-tenant had been injured entering the block of apartments. He said that the freeholder was responsible despite no report of the disrepair having been made. The lease excused the landlord from unnotified liability. The parties . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Landlord and Tenant

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.259931