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Repair Obligation Could Not be Implied into Lease

In circumstances where a commercial lease imposed no obligation on the landlord to repair those parts of the building which it had retained, no such duty could be implied at common law and the tenants were not entitled to compensation following the repeated ingress of water into their premises, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

PictureThe tenants had at one point valued their claim against the landlords at over £2 million on the basis that serious damage had been caused and their art gallery business interrupted by water ingress from the retained parts. At first instance, a judge found that, notwithstanding the lease’s silence on the point, the landlord was under an implied duty to remedy any defects in the retained parts which would cause damage to the tenants’ premises.

In the event, the landlord was only found to have breached its duty in respect of one flooding incident and the tenants were awarded £100 damages. In dismissing the tenants’ appeal against that decision, the court rejected their pleas that they had been denied a fair hearing and that the judge had incorrectly formulated the scope of the landlord’s duty.

Allowing the landlord’s cross-appeal and overturning the £100 damages award, the court ruled that, in the absence of an express covenant in the lease, the judge had been wrong to imply a common law duty to keep the retained parts in repair and to find the landlord liable in tort.