As the landlord of a commercial property, your main responsibilities will be to keep up with any maintenance and repairs to the property and to ensure it is a safe place for people to work. The responsibilities of the landlord will vary depending on the terms of the lease, and some of the responsibilities can be passed on to the tenants in the terms and conditions.
Regardless of the respective responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenants, it is important that you both understand and are happy to accept your responsibilities laid out in the lease.
Gas, fire and electrical safety
Depending on the type of property and lease, you may have responsibility for gas, electrical and fire safety.
According to ‘The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998’, if you are responsible, you must make sure that any relevant gas fitting is ‘maintained in a safe condition’. You must also ‘ensure that each appliance and flue to which that duty extends is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed’ and should be checked at regular 12-month intervals.
You must also ensure that you keep records of all safety checks that are made and that any work to any gas fitting is carried out by an approved Gas Safe registered engineer. If you are responsible for gas safety under the terms of the lease and fail to adhere to these regulations, you could be faced with a large fine or imprisonment.
‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, states that fire safety is the responsibility of an appointed ‘responsible person’. This can either be the tenant or the landlord. This responsible person’s duties include;
- General fire precautions – e.g. taking steps to reduce the risk of a fire and the spread of fire, providing fire escape routes from the building, fitting smoke alarms and providing fire extinguishers.
- Making regular and sufficient risk assessments of the building to identify any potential fire hazards
- Making sure any equipment used within the building is maintained and in good working order and that the premises are kept in a good state of repair.
The responsible person will be liable for any non-compliance, and if found guilty, can face a fine or imprisonment.
As the landlord, you may be responsible for the electrical safety of the property. Even if you are not, you are generally in charge of conducting regular risk assessments of your property, which may include electrical products as a potential fire hazard. It is recommended that:
- Any electrical product, fixture or fitting is safe when tenants move in and that they are regularly maintained.
- Electrical products are tested every five years by a registered electrician and at the end of every tenancy.
Under the ‘Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012’, ‘the dutyholder’ who has control of any non-domestic premises, is responsible for managing any asbestos and protecting anyone using the premises or working there from the risks of asbestos exposure.
As the dutyholder, you must ensure regular and sufficient risk assessments are carried out to determine whether asbestos is present on the premises and take appropriate action to manage any risks which must be identified in a written plan.
Although the use of asbestos was banned in 1999, it may still be present in lots of properties, so landlords should presume that asbestos is present in any property built before 2000. If asbestos is at risk of being disturbed, it should be removed by a qualified asbestos specialist.
General maintenance and repairs
According to The Code for Leasing Business Premises (a voluntary best practice code for landlords), exactly who is obliged to keep the premises in a good state of repair will depend on the length of the lease and the condition of the premises. However, it is important that the responsibilities of both parties are set out clearly in the lease and that both parties understand their respective responsibilities.
It is generally standard practice that the tenant should leave the premises in the same condition as when they signed the lease. Any issues that are a health and safety hazard, should be flagged with the landlord.
MEES – Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards
Since April 1 2018, all eligible rented properties in England and Wales, must have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before landlords can grant a new tenancy to new or existing tenants. When there has been no change in tenancy agreements, it will be unlawful to continue to lease a private residential property without this certificate from April 1 2020 and 1 April 2023 for commercial properties.
Failure to comply with these new regulations can result in a fine of up to £5,000. However, some properties are exempt from this rule, such as buildings that have a temporary use or places of worship.
Commercial property insurance
Usually the landlord will arrange and pay for buildings insurance to provide financial security in the event of damage to the property, unless specified in the lease. The insurance should represent good value for money and you should provide details of the full policy if the tenant requests this.
There are various types of insurance policies available, so it is a good idea to speak to a financial expert or solicitor who can ensure you’re completely covered.
Get expert help to make sure you are meeting your responsibilities as a commercial landlord
If you need help or advice about your responsibilities as a commercial landlord, get in touch with one of our commercial property lawyers. We aim to exceed clients’ expectations and can offer clear, pragmatic guidance to help you through the every stage of commercial growth.
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