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Last edited 01 Mar 2018
An occupier, or occupant, is a person / persons or organisation who lives in or uses property and / or land, either legally as the owner or tenant, or illegally as a squatter. The degree of occupational control over property or land is the most applicable test for who the occupier is. Tenants and licensees are considered the occupiers of the property in which they live, work or operate a business. The status of occupier is usually shared between a licensee and the owner.
Owners of property which has been let to tenants are considered to be the occupiers of areas over which they still have full control, i.e. the common staircase or landing in a flat. The landlord may often be responsible for carrying out repairs and maintenance as part of their duty as occupier.
If they exercise sufficient control over property, contractors working on site may also be considered to be occupiers.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 covers the liability of the occupier to visitors – defined as being persons to whom the occupier gives an invitation or permission (express or implied) to enter or use the premises. A visitor will become a trespasser and so not fall under the liability of the occupier if they exceed the permission of the occupier. There is a duty of care placed upon the occupier by the Act, which states that reasonable care must be taken to ensure the safety of the visitor, similar to the common law standard of care relating to negligence.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 covers the liability of the occupier to people other than visitors, i.e. trespassers. While it is much narrower, the Act stipulates the scope of duty that an occupier has to ensure the safety of a trespasser; for example, where the occupier knows about risks relating to the premises; where the occupier knows that the trespasser is in the vicinity of those risks; or where the risk is such that the occupier is expected to have offered some form of protection.
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