Readers will recall that for a landlord to be liable for a
nuisance committed by its tenant, the landlord must have authorised
the nuisance, either by participating actively or directly in the
nuisance or by letting the property in circumstances where there
was a very high degree of probability that the letting would result
in the nuisance (Lawrence v Coventry  UKSC 46). The
Court of Appeal has made it clear in Cocking v Eacott and
Waring  EWCA Civ 140 that the situation is quite
different where the nuisance is committed by a licensee.
Mrs Waring owned, maintained and paid the bills for a property
which was occupied by her daughter, Ms Eacott, who did not pay any
rent and had no formal agreement in place with her mother. Mr and
Mrs Cocking lived in the property adjacent and had complained of
nuisance in the form of shouting and barking since 2004. To put
this in context, Ms Eacott was in 2011 subject to an ASBO for the
shouting (although her mother was unaware of this until 2011).
In February 2012, the Cockings commenced proceedings against Mrs
Waring and Ms Eacott claiming damages for nuisance. This led to a
breakdown in the relationship between the mother and daughter,
which culminated in Mrs Waring serving a notice to quit upon her
daughter and a few months later she obtained a possession order for
the property, although she chose not to enforce it. The Cockings
offered to settle if Mrs Waring permanently evicted her daughter
from the property but this offer was rejected and the case went to
At first instance, having found that the arrangement between Mrs
Waring and her daughter amounted to a bare licence, the Judge
ordered Mrs Waring to pay GBP 1,000 and Ms Eacott to pay GBP 3,500
in damages to the Cockings for the nuisance caused by the barking
(but not the shouting as it had stopped following the ASBO). Mrs
Waring and Ms Eacott were also found to be jointly and severally
liable for the Cockings' costs. Mrs Waring appealed this
The issues on appeal were, as a licensor:
Could Mrs Waring be liable for a nuisance caused by her
Should she be ordered to pay all of the Cockings' costs on
a jointly and severally basis with her licensee?
With regards to the first point, the Court found that Mrs Waring
had been correctly regarded as the occupier of the property and as
such was responsible for the nuisance even if she did not directly
cause it. The relevant test is set out in Sedleigh Denfield v
O'Callagan & Other  A.C. 880: an owner may be
regarded as an occupier of property for the purposes of liability
for nuisance if he has allowed others to live or undertake
activities on his land. In this instance, Mrs Waring was in control
and possession of the property throughout the period in which her
daughter resided there and was aware of the nuisance which she had
not done anything to abate.
The Court also upheld the costs order as Mrs Waring was the only
person who could ultimately abate the nuisance by removing her
daughter from the property.
This case highlights the difference in position between the
liability of a landlord and that of a licensor in relation to
nuisance. Landlords should therefore take care to abate a nuisance
committed by an occupier soon after becoming aware of it where
there is a licence in place but also if there is any doubt as to
whether the agreement in place is a licence or a tenancy.
It is also worth noting Arden LJ's comment that if a
landlord is subject to a repairing covenant to inspect and clean
the drains on the demised property at regular intervals and a
nuisance is caused by the tenant's use of the drains, the
landlord may be able to escape liability even if there is clear a
tenancy in place if the landlord has failed to comply with its
The recent County Court decision in Camelot Property Management Limited (1) and Camelot Guardian Management Limited (2) v. Greg Roynon is an uncomfortable reminder to landowners of how easy it is to inadvertently grant a tenancy when only a licence was intended. The consequences of getting it wrong can be time consuming and costly.
It's now less than one year to go until the Energy
Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales)
Regulations 2015, commonly known as the MEES Regulations (minimum
energy efficiency standards) come into effect.
It's now less than one year to go until the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, commonly known as the MEES Regulations (minimum energy efficiency standards) come into effect. It
The use of letters of intent can be fraught with difficulty. In this Insight we review the key case law on letters of intent of the past few years and seek to highlight some of the lessons that can be learned from them.
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