Landlords Caught by Tenant's Environmental Failings

A landlord that ignores the potential for problems caused by the activities of its tenant does so at its peril, as a recent case demonstrated conclusively.

It concerned a company that recycled mattresses on a site it rented. It lacked any sort of environmental permit for the operation and, when served with an enforcement notice, its response was to vacate the site immediately, leaving 471 tonnes of mattresses in situ.

It got even worse for the landlords when the Environment Agency brought a charge under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 of 'knowingly permitting storage of waste without authorisation'.

Their defence was that they had not carried out any operation...the business had not been theirs and they had done nothing other than take the preliminary steps towards mounting a clean-up operation. They had not even been aware that the enforcement notice had been served on their tenant.

That cut no ice with the magistrates or, on appeal, with the High Court. The storage of the mattresses was a continuing operation which the landlords had permitted.

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