Must Landlord Install Safety Glass?

Alker v Collingwood Housing Association - [2007] 2 EGLR 43

Court of Appeal, Laws, Carnwath and Moore-Bick L.JJ. February 7, 2007 

The claimant tenant occupied premises owned by the defendant landlord. Her tenancy agreement required the landlord to repair and maintain the structure and exterior of the building. 

The front door to the property contained glass panels made of ordinary toughened glass; such glass panels were known to constitute a hazard and not as safe as panels made from safety glass. 

The claimant was seriously injured when the glass panel in the door gave way. 

She brought proceedings against her landlord, asserting that s.4, Defective Premises Act 1972, imposed on the landlord a duty to keep the property safe by, among other things, replacing the toughened glass with safety glass. 

The defendant defended the claim that no duty arose under the 1972 Act to replace the glass because it was not broken or damaged or in disrepair and did not require maintenance.

The county court judge found that the duty under s.4, 1972 Act was to keep the property safe and accordingly gave judgment in favour of the claimant.

The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. 

The duty under s.4, 1972 Act, imposed a duty under a tenancy containing an obligation by the landlord for maintenance and repair. 

That duty did not extend to rectifying matters - such as the toughened glass - which was not in disrepair or needed maintenance, even though they could cause injury. 

Author's note: although this case has great relevance on all safety issues, the Housing Health and Safety Rating System would require safety glass to be installed if the local authority served an improvement notice.

View Related Handbook Page

Landlords’ Responsibilities for Repair and Maintenance

In addition to any repair responsibilities explicitly set out in the tenancy agreement, common law and statute will imply terms to the agreement between landlord and tenant.