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Lawbite: When does a nuisance tenant become the landlord’s problem?

  • United Kingdom
  • Litigation and dispute management
  • Real estate dispute resolution
  • Real estate litigation

13-02-2019

Fouladi v Darout Ltd and others [2018] EWHC 3501 (Ch)

A nuisance is caused by a person doing something on his own land, which he is lawfully entitled to do but which becomes a nuisance when the consequences of his act extend to the land of his neighbour, such as by causing physical damage.

The High Court have recently confirmed that to hold a landlord liable for the nuisance of its tenant, it must have either authorised it or participated directly in the nuisance. Being aware and failing to take steps to prevent it is not sufficient.

The case concerned a ‘high-class’ mansion block in Kensington and a dispute between neighbouring flat owners regarding noise resulting from parties, children running around and everyday living.

The defendant tenant had removed carpet and installed a different flooring in the flat above the claimant, Fouladi, which, on the evidence, was held to have caused the increased noise levels. 

The landlord’s consent was required under the lease for such floor works but was not sought. Notwithstanding this, Fouladi argued that the landlord was aware of other works being carried out to the flat but did not inspect them or request information which would have revealed the existence of the flooring works.  As such, a claim was brought in nuisance against both the neighbour responsible for the noise and their mutual landlord.

The High Court confirmed the long established position that a landlord is not liable for a nuisance caused by its tenant merely because it has not taken steps which are available to it to prevent it, even where it is aware of the nuisance. It stated that a landlord will, however, cross over into the liability territory where it authorises (beyond simply letting the property) or participates (actively or directly) in the nuisance itself.

The landlord’s failure to act to prevent the flooring works did not amount to participation in the nuisance. Similarly, it was also insufficient to amount to a breach of quiet enjoyment under the lease.

Key points

This case serves as a useful remainder of the high bar to holding a landlord liable for its tenant’s nuisance.

A landlord will generally not be held liable for a nuisance caused by its tenant merely because it has not taken steps which are available to it to prevent it, even where it is aware of the nuisance. Evidence of active or direct participation in or clear authorisation of the nuisance beyond simply agreeing to the letting will be required.