Cocking v Eacott [2016] EWCA Civ 140

Key point

Licensors are occupiers and come under the Sedleigh-Denfield principle

Facts

  • D owned a property which she allowed to her daughter to live in rent free
  • C sued D for the nuisance created by the excessive barking of her daughter’s dog
  • There was no tenancy and thus D was a licensor but D argued that she had no control over the premises and was thus akin to a landlord

Issue

  • Is D liable as an occupier under Sedleigh-Denfield?

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • D was liable for nuisance as the occupier of the house

Vos LJ

Liability of landlords vs occupiers

  • A landlord of a property would only be liable for a nuisance emanating therefrom if he had either participated directly in its commission or authorised it by letting the property, the fact that a landlord does nothing to stop a tenant from causing the nuisance cannot amount to participating in it: [23]
  • An occupier would be liable for a nuisance even if he had not directly caused it, as he in direct control and possession of the property: [25]
  • An occupier is liable if he had continued or adopted the nuisance by failing to abate it without undue delay once he became aware of it or should have done so: [25]

Who is an occupier?

  • An owner who was in control and possession of a property could be regarded as an occupier for those purposes, even if he had allowed others to live in or undertake activities on the property: [25]

Current case

  • D is an occupier as she had been in possession and control of the premises
  • Her daughter had a bare licence and could not exclude D, D also obtained a possession order against her daughter but did not enforce it: [27]

Arden LJ

  • A landlord will not be an occupier, but sometimes a lease might leave the landlord with control over part of the premises such as drains from which the nuisance emanates such that the Sedleigh-Denfield principle applies: [43]