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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Occupier's Liability

Q: A friend of mine came over to my house for a birthday party. She tripped on some loose tiles and ended up fracturing her wrist when she fell. Am I responsible even though I didn't know?

A: Yes, you are responsible. As an occupier, you are responsible for injuries to certain persons on your property/premises; this is called occupier's liability.

Here’s the law surrounding this topic.

Who is an occupier?
According to Wheat v Lacon (1966), an occupier exercises a sufficient degree of control over the premises
In this case,  4 categories of Occupiers were identified:
  1. If the landlord rents the premises to a tenant, then the tenant is the occupier.
  2. If the landlord rents the premises, he remains liable for common areas such as stairs, gardens etc.
  3. If the landlord grants a licence, then both are occupiers.
  4. If the landlord engages an independent contractor, then the landlord remains the occupier BUT the independent contractor may be the occupier if he has a high level of control.

What are premises?
“… any fixed or moveable structure, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft.”

Dangerous Premises
Occupiers must keep premises in a reasonably safe condition. There must be “negligence”, “defect” or “danger” with the premises for a claim to succeed.

Categories of persons on property:
Anyone with expressed or implied permission to be on the property.

Includes permission granted by law:
ž  Police Officers and Health Inspectors.

ž  Jehovah’s Witnesses? Political Canvassers?
Robson v. Hallet (1967)
“...when a householder lives in a dwelling house to which there is a garden in front and does not lock the gate of the garden it gives an implied licence to any member of the public who has lawful reason for doing so to proceed from the gate to the front door or the back door...”


According to Addie v Dumbreck [1929], there is no duty of care owed to trespassers. The only duty was not to inflict harm wilfully.


  1. Hi. Nice blog. Very informative and useful.
    Question: My family and I have been living in this house in south Trinidad since 2012. The rent is $2500 per month.
    The landlord let us know there were a few problems (a leaking ceiling being the worst) and it was agreed that they'd have it fixed in one month.
    It was never fixed.
    From December 2012, we had no electricity in one room upstairs.
    In early 2013, two people moved into the second (smaller) apartment of this building.
    On a day of heavy rain in August the entire upstairs was flooded because of the same poor drainage problem that was causing the initial leaking. This was the first time we missed a month rent. We couldn't reach her on the phone so we did this to get her attention.
    She hired people to fix the roof. No money was reimbursed for the items damaged by water.
    Earlier this year, all of the electrical outlets and lights upstairs stopped working because of previously frayed wires in the ceiling caused by the water. Said electrical failure was never fixed.
    Last month she showed up, and told us that she wanted us out of her house by the second week in January, and the couple in the other apartment was told to leave in 1 week.They have since left. She has since taken up occupancy in the other apartment.
    We were owing 2 months rent of $5000 (from the month of the flooding, and last month), and it was discovered that the other tenants were owing 6 months (~$9000).
    On December 24th, herself, and three others, came and seized several of the items in our apartment (approximately $5000 worth of items) and hand-wrote an agreement with us stating that they would be returned when we pay our arrears. She said that this was one of the terms stated on the tenancy agreement (lease) but upon thoroughly re-reading the lease, I found that there was no such term stated.

    We haven't found another place to move to yet.
    My questions are:
    1. Did she have the right to seize the items?
    2. If she gave us a verbal eviction notice, are we still legally obligated to pay the 2 months rent owed?

    1. In England we called it theft... in Trinidad & Tobago, it's called larceny. She had no right to enter your apartment and "seize" anything. Is she a Bailiff in possession of a court order?

      As long as you live in a property, you have to pay the rent. Notice doesn't change anything.


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