RENTING A BUSINESS PROPERTY:
A tenant of a commercial property has a lawful duty to ensure that the business premises are:
- Well maintained and in a good state of repair.
- A healthy and safe place for people to carry out their work.
As a rule, United Kingdom law determines the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant in a commercial property.
But, if you are renting a property for your business, the terms of the lease may also affect the usual commercial property responsibilities.
Tenant Responsibility: Health and Safety
Many of the health and safety responsibilities belong to the tenant in a rented business premises. But, that does not always mean that the landlord is exempt from liability.
As a tenant in commercial property employing staff members, you must ensure the workplace meets some basic safety requirements. As a rule, you would be responsible for:
- Conducting a health and safety risk assessment in the workplace including workplace fire safety.
- Taking steps to remove any hazards and potential risks to the workforce and to visitors from the public.
- Managing asbestos in a commercial building.
- Ensuring the safety of all electrical equipment in the building.
- The safe maintenance of gas equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. That could mean getting an annual inspection by a registered gas safety engineer to ensure the appliances and pipework are safe.
The basic tenant responsibilities when renting a business property also extend to making sure there is:
- A reasonable workplace temperature for working that is appropriate for the building.
- Sufficient space, adequate lighting, and proper ventilation.
- Drinking water available for the workers (you can check the quality of your drinking water to make sure it is clear and does not smell).
- Safe equipment (and it gets used according to its purpose).
- Suitable sanitation, toilets, and washing facilities and the premises are clean and free of waste.
Note: The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 apply to most workplaces. Read the HSE guide titled ‘Workplace health, safety and welfare: a short guide’ for further details.
The landlord of a commercial property also has some responsibilities to fulfill. As a rule, landlords are responsible for any aspects of health and safety written in the lease. A typical example would be any communal areas.
Note: It is the responsibility of a tenant to take reasonable steps to check that the landlord is meeting their full responsibilities. But, you must keep paying the rent even if there is a dispute between a tenant and the landlord. Failing to do so may mean you get evicted from the property.
Consequences of Not Following Health and Safety Rules
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 appertains to health and safety at work in the United Kingdom. The responsibility for the governance of these laws belongs with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the local councils.
Note: Failing to follow all workplace health and safety rules means you can get prosecuted. You can download the guide titled ‘Health and safety regulation: a short guide’ for further details.
Responsibilities for Repairs and Maintenance
The responsibility for general repairs and maintenance of a commercial building is often shared between the landlord and the tenant. As a rule, the lease agreement will state who has the responsibility for property repairs and maintenance.
When the Tenant Moves Out
As a tenant of a commercial property you may need to pay for some repairs when you vacate the premises. The landlord will usually expect you to return the property to the state that it was in at the time you first rented it.
A buildings surveyor would refer to these general repairs as ‘dilapidations’. As a rule, these types of defects or disrepair would get written into the lease agreement.
Note: In most cases, the tenant would adopt any of the responsibilities that are not mentioned in the lease.