For the purposes of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, an occupier is a person (or ‘persons’) who wields sufficient control over the premises to be responsible for rectifying any defects in the property that they are aware of or ought to be aware of.

Note that we refer to ‘person or persons’. There may be several occupiers of a premises, either permanently or temporarily. An example of temporary occupancy of premises could be when a firm of building contractors is hired to carry out renovations or other building work on the premises. During the time the contractors are carrying out work at the premises, they are likely to be a ‘person’ exercising sufficient control over the premises to be considered an ‘occupier’.

So, the owner of the premises is not always the sole occupier, and, in some cases, the owner may not be considered an occupier. For instance,  when premises are leased, the tenancy agreement may stipulate that the tenant becomes responsible for the repair and maintenance of the premises. In such cases, the tenant could become the sole ‘occupier’ during the duration of the tenancy. It will depend on the precise terms of the tenancy agreement.

Companies, local authorities, or other public bodies and organisations responsible for the upkeep of premises may be occupiers, either solely or in conjunction with others, which may or may not include the owner.

Note: As you will have gathered from the above section, finding out the identity of an occupier of premises where an accident occurred due to property defects is not always straightforward. An experienced firm of personal injury solicitors used to handling Occupiers liability Claims will be able to advise you against whom the claim should be brought.