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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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My tennants son suffered a minor cut which needed three stitches

Resolved Question:

My tennant's son suffered a minor cut which needed three stitches when part of the chimney stack fell through the bedroom ceiling a week ago. Normally the house insurance would cover such eventualities but I unfortunately had allowed it to lapse and was not covered at the time of the accident . I had the damage to the ceiling and the chimney fixed properly and offered the tennant two month's free rental but he says he intends to sue anyway. How do I stand legally and what would would the likely outcome be of action by his solicitors?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Customer:

Hi Ben, Im really worried about all this.

Ben Jones :

As a landlord you will have certain responsibilities for the upkeep of your property and may have potential liability for injuries suffered on the premises. The relevant law is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which states that a landlord has an implied duty that a property will be 'fit for human habitation' and that it will be kept so during the term of the tenancy.


 


The issue in this case really is why the accident happened and if it was due to your failure to maintain the property to a habitable standard. For example, did you know that there were issues with the structure of the chimney stack but failed to take appropriate action to make any necessary repairs. However, if the damage was caused by a freak accident, for example an unusually strong storm and there were no upkeep issues with the chimney, then it is unlikely that you can be held liable.


 


To succeed in bringing a claim against you, the tenant must show that:



  • a duty of care existed (this would automatically be owed to a tenant and their visitors)

  • that duty was breached (usually by failing to maintain the structure)

  • loss and damage was suffered as a result of that breach (this is the injury suffered by the person)


 


Even if the person was to sue, I would not say that any compensation for a small cut with a few stitches would attract a high level of compensation. This would be a minor injury and at the lower scale of the compensation scale.

Customer:

I certainly didnt know of any pre-existing problems with the chimney stack. Ive never had cause to go up in the loft during the time Ive had the house, (7 years).

Customer:

Are we saying then that in your estimation any action by the tennant to attempt to get compensation through the court would not be successful?

Ben Jones :

I cannot guarantee that but to be successful they must prove that you had breached your duty of care towards them, by not maintaining the structure that caused the injury

Customer:

How would they do that? would the fact that the house was not covered by adequate insurance affect the decision at all?

Ben Jones :

no, the insurance issue does not imply that the structure was not maintained. They will need to provide evidence that the structure was not maintained properly, for example if they have photos to show it was in disrepair or can get it verified by other means - it will not be easy thats for sure

Customer:

should the case get to court what would be the worse case scenario regarding my liability for money given the circumstances and the fact that I have made the premises safe and that I have made an attempt to offer fair compensation?

Ben Jones :

what was the injury to?

Customer:

The teenager suffered a cut to his head

Customer:

Alledgedly.....

Ben Jones :

if this was trivial scarring to the head then between £1,000 - 2,000 compensation worst case

Customer:

But he would have to prove negligence on my behalf in order to get that sort of money?a

Ben Jones :

yes correct

Customer:

The cut apparently needed 3 stitches is this classed as trivial scarring?lt

Ben Jones :

well it's for a judge to decide but it won't be far off

Customer:

Ok thanks for putting my mind to rest Ben. you

Ben Jones :

you are most welcome

Customer:

From what I understand, based upon the information I have given, my tennant would have a difficult time proving negligence on my behalf as the stack was in the loft and therefore not something that would be checked as a matter of routine. If in the unlikely circumstance that negligence is proven however, then compensation is likely not to exceed £2k. Do you agree?

Ben Jones :

yes that is correct

Customer:

Once again Ben, Thankyou

Ben Jones :

You are welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:



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