Social Housing Tenant Wins £33,750 Compensation After Doorstep Trip

Tenants have a right to expect that their homes will be kept reasonably safe for them to occupy. In a case on point, a disabled pensioner who was badly injured when she tripped over her doorstep won substantial damages from her social housing landlord.

The woman, who was aged in her mid-60s and suffered from mobility problems, was coming home after a christening when her foot caught on a weather bar or sill that had been installed on top of the step about three months previously by a contractor employed by her landlord. She suffered fractures to her right femur and left knee and spent 12 days in hospital. The accident, which worsened a pre-existing back condition, knocked her confidence and caused her to suffer from anxiety.

After lawyers took action on her behalf, the High Court noted that her landlord was aware of her mobility problems. The contractor had failed to use reasonable care in installing the sill, which was about 30 millimetres proud of the step and represented a tripping hazard. The Court acknowledged that the woman was in part responsible for her own misfortune in failing to make use of a grab handle that had been placed in her doorway to assist her. Her landlord was, however, ruled 75 per cent liable for the accident and ordered to pay her £33,750 in damages.