Keates v The Earl of Cadogan – 1851

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Keates v The Earl of Cadogan (1851) 10 CB 591

Whether a landlord has a duty to inform a prospective tenant of the poor quality of the property let

Facts

The defendant entered into an agreement with the claimant for the lease of a property for a term of three years. The claimant intended to reside in the property with his family. The property concerned was in an extremely poor structural condition and was likely to collapse at any stage. The defendant however, despite knowing of this condition, did not inform the claimant of it during the negotiations for the lease, nor did the defendant inform the claimant after the claimant had agreed the lease and begun to occupy the property with his family. Ultimately, a large part of the property collapsed and the claimant sought to rescind the contract, or alternatively commence action in tort for his losses.

Issue

The issue in this circumstance was whether a landlord has an obligation to inform a prospective tenant of the poor state of a property prior to entering into a lease with said tenant.

Held

It was held that no obligation is placed on a landlord to inform a tenant as to the state of a property prior to entering into a lease. A claim will only arise for a tenant in these circumstances if the landlord gives an express warranty as to the condition of the property or where the landlord actively deceives the tenant as to the property’s condition. The court in this instance found in favour of the defendant.

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