Murphy v Hurly: HL 1922

Consequences of a defect in the repair of a sea wall possession of which had been retained by the landlord. The House considered the rule that a landlord is not liable under a covenant with his tenant to repair premises which are in the possession of the tenant and not of the landlord, unless and until the landlord has notice of the disrepair.
Held: The rule did not apply in this case.
Lord Buckmaster said that the rule had to be considered by reference to ‘the actual facts existing in each case’, and it was based ‘upon the consideration whether the circumstances are such that knowledge of what may be required to be done to comply with the covenant cannot reasonably be supposed to be possessed by the one party while it is by the other’.
Lord Atkinson described ‘the presumption upon which the right to notice is stated to depend’ as being ‘that the tenant being in occupation has a full opportunity of seeing and knowing the condition of the premises he occupies and their need of repair, while the landlord has no such opportunity’.
Lord Sumner said that the reason for the rule was ‘(1) that the tenant is in occupation and the landlord is not; (2) that the tenant, therefore, has the means of knowledge peculiarly in his own possession . .; and (3) . . the repairs of dwelling-houses . . are . . not . . such as to demand of the landlord incessant vigilance . .’


Lord Buckmaster, Lord Atkinson, Lord Sumner


[1922] 1 AC 369


England and Wales

Cited by:

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

Updated: 20 May 2022; Ref: scu.622320