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Smith v Scott  & Ors [1973] 1 Ch 314

Lewisham Borough Council acquired property next door to the claimants’ home in order to house homeless families. The Council placed a troublesome family in the property who committed several acts of nuisance against the claimants. The council knew the family were troublesome although the terms of the tenancy agreement prohibited acts of nuisance by the tenants.

Held:

The Council were not liable for the acts of the tenants. Whilst they were aware that the family might commit acts of nuisance, they had not authorised the nuisance.

Vice-Chancellor:

"In general, a landlord is not liable for nuisance committed by his tenant, but to this rule there is, so far as now in point, one recognised exception, namely, that the landlord is liable if he has authorised his tenant to commit the nuisance…  The exception is not based on cause and probable result, apart from express or implied authority. In the present case, the corporation let No. 25, Walpole Road to the Scotts as a dwelling house on conditions of tenancy which expressly prohibited the committing of a nuisance, and, notwithstanding that the corporation knew the Scotts were likely to cause a nuisance, I do not think it is legitimate to say that the corporation impliedly authorised the nuisance."
Back to lecture outline on nuisance in tort law