The Defective Premises Act 1972 was introduced with the aim of establishing: Liability for injury or damage caused to persons through defects in the state of premises.

Before the act was passed, builders who constructed unsafe properties were largely immune to prosecution and landlords who rented properties where a non tenant was injured because of a dangerous building could not be sued.

In attempting to rectify these anomalies the Act established a series of guidelines laying out a duty of care for builders, sub-contractors and landlords.

Following the introduction of the Act a claimant now has 6 years from the completion of the building work to make a claim if they consider the building to be defective.

The definition of ‘defective’ or unfit for habitation has been considered in a number of cases. Notable examples are Alderson v Beetham, Bole v Huntsbuild and Alexander v Mercouris.

In practical terms. Although the Act is rarely referenced by claimants it provides a useful system of checks and measures to help ensure that a negligent attitude in building construction and building management can be avoided.

The largely identical Defective Premises (Northern Ireland) Order was introduced on January 1st 1976.

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