Being a commercial property landlord means you have a duty to ensure that your building is a safe, well maintained place for people to work. Your responsibilities as a commercial landlord are different to those of a residential landlord and these responsibilities differ property to property, landlord to landlord and tenancy agreement to tenancy agreement.
Health and Safety
When it comes to health and safety responsibilities the tenant is usually mostly responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all the people who use the building. Landlords only share this responsibility in the case of sharing a premise and common areas or having an active role in management.
Fixtures and Fittings
Fixtures and fittings mean everything from fixed lighting and heating systems to carpets and paintings on the walls. It is your responsibility as landlord to ensure that every fixture and fitting fitted in your commercial property is fitted safely and properly. Also remember that in terms of electrical fixtures this will mean having the safety certificates.
If your tenant installs any fixtures or fittings themselves this will usually be their responsibility to ensure they are safe and maintained properly. It will be safer for you to clarify exactly what you will take responsibility for before your tenants move in.
Gas and Electricity
The legislation on gas safety has changed since April 6th, 2018. Landlords now need to have a copy of two gas safety certificates from the last two years instead of just having a copy of one for two years. Landlords can also now have their gas safety inspection with a gas safe engineer two months before the due date, this allows much more flexibility for you to plan for this inspection. The responsibility of gas and electrical safety is all upon you so it’s important to make sure you are being inspected by a gas safety engineer and an electrical safety engineer. Anything that the tenant installs which is gas or electric falls upon them to be responsible for. The exact terms of everything will be set out in the lease.
Maintenance and Repair
It is hard to give a vague explanation of a landlord’s maintenance and repair duties as it will differ in every tenancy agreement. Tenants are usually responsible for the general upkeep and maintenance of a rented property and in general any landlord responsibilities that are not mentioned in the lease will then fall upon the tenant.
Landlords are usually responsible for any structural repairs to maintain a commercial property. This includes the exterior walls, foundations, flooring and the roof. Non-structural repairs like plumbing or air conditioning usually fall upon the tenant to get fixed unless stated otherwise in the lease or a maintenance fee is paid to the landlord.
It is so important to keep on top of asbestos as the penalties for failing to manage the risk of asbestos are severe. In 2011, Marks and Spencer were fined £1,600,000 for a work environment that put builders they hired at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. It will be in your lease who is responsible for asbestos in your property. If you are responsible for any asbestos you need to ensure you know where the asbestos is, ensure the material has been analysed and the results recorded, make sure to complete a health and safety risk assessment, keep everything in the vicinity of the asbestos in good condition and tightly sealed and ensure that you inform anybody coming into contact with the asbestos that it’s there.
The responsibility of fire safety falls upon the tenant usually unless stated otherwise in your lease. However, even if you are not responsible for the fire safety of your building you should still include fire safety in your risk assessments.
It can be complicated trying to work out what responsibilities fall on you as a landlord and onto your tenants. You need to make sure that your lease is clear and that all parties understand their responsibilities to ensure there’s no complications further down the line. You should keep on top of your responsibilities with planned maintenance to avoid expensive repairs and accidents.