Landlord's liability (if any) for tenant accident?

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I would be grateful for advice on my liability for the following, if any, please.

A student tenant of mine contacted me a few days ago to see if my insurance would pay for a pair of £200 Ugg boots which she damaged on the back door of her house (sounds like it could have been caught on the weather strip at the bottom). I said my insurance would not, but I said her contents insurance (or her parents’) might. I always recommend that they get their own contents insurance when they move in, and the tenancy agreement (based on RLA’s) also makes this clear. Today she emailed me:

“I understand the tenancy agreement but after speaking to my cousin who is a solicitor i believe you are liable for the accident concerning my boots as it occurred in the communal area of the house with one of your doors. I would take full responsibility if i had damaged them myself but with them ripping after being caught on the bottom of your door after the simple process of opening it, it is down to you to amend the door and replace my boots. As i said it could have been worse if it was a bare foot costing you a lot more than a pair of shoes. So now i have bought this to your attention i hope you will act on it. Also as previously said I am happy to show you how this accident occurred.”

Last time I visited, I did not notice anything unusual about the door, but I will go and check it again tomorrow. The house is not yet 6 years old, and the door is exactly the same as hundreds more across the whole estate (Bovis Homes). I have never had any other tenants ever had such an accident, nor heard of other landlords having such experience.

Many thanks!

10/01/2011 00:00

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