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Last month we covered a bit about what your obligations and responsibilities are as a landlord for a commercial property. Having a planned maintenance plan in place can help you minimise the risk and costs involved in commercial lettings, but it is important that you understand what you can and can’t do. This month in part 2 of our landlords and the law series, we take a closer look into the laws around commercial letting, and what those laws mean to you when renting our your property.

What’s Included In The Lease

When you have new tenants move in, they will need to sign a lease. In this lease you will need to detail how the responsibilities for maintenance and repairs are shared between landlord and tenant, if they are shared at all. Typically you are responsible for keeping the property in good condition, to pay for structural repairs and ensuring the premises is insured and doesn’t fall into dilapidation. You can also detail expected conduct while in the building, security requirements and any damages the tenants might be liable for. Whilst you can tweak your lease to make it more appropriate for your situation (for example if a business renting an office needs to remodel to accommodate equipment, they must pay for it and return it to normal when they leave) it is a legal requirement to have a commercial lease in place. Find out more about putting together your commercial lease here.

Your Legal Responsibilities

Along with ensuring you have a valid agreement with the tenants in your property, as a landlord you also have a variety of statutory responsibilities to your tenants and the government. Responsibility for compliance with the condition and statutory annual inspection of the following building aspects ultimately lies with the person responsible for the property. If you are a tenant then you are not responsible, and even if you lease a single unit within a shopping centre, the ultimate responsibility lies with the owner of the shopping centre. If it is discovered that you aren’t compliant in any of these areas you could face a heavy fine and even jail time. So in order to comply with the regulations, you need to make sure checks to the following are completed annually:

  • Boiler and Combustion
  • Gas Appliances
  • Lifts and Elevators (if applicable)
  • Fire Systems (you must also ensure that any furniture you supply is fire resistant and meets fire safety standards)
  • Water Hygiene
  • Pressure Vessels
  • Local Exhaust Ventilation, Ductwork, Ventilation Fans, Filters & Cooker Hoods
  • Fixed Wired Electrical Testing
  • Emergency Lighting
  • PAT Testing
  • Lighting Conductors
  • Sprinklers & Dry Risers
  • Physical Education Equipment (in schools)
  • Design & technology Equipment (in schools)
  • COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Assessments
  • Risk Assessments

Also there are some additional items that need to be considered as and when applicable, which include:

  • Air Conditioning Inspections
  • Creation of Energy Performance Certificates
  • Creation of Display Energy Certificates
  • The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

As well as your annual checks, you should also ensure regular checks are carried out on:

  • Plumbing & Sanitation
  • Water Treatment
  • Building Lighting Conductor testing
  • Intruder Alarms
  • Security Systems
  • CCTV
  • Access & Barrier Controls

This might seem like an overwhelming list, but as a commercial landlord you are legally taking on responsibility for these aspects of your property. You may be able to share some of these responsibilities with your tenants,but even if they are taking care of risk assessments or any other aspects of maintenance, it is still ultimately your responsibility to ensure it is being done. If not you could be facing very heavy fines and prison sentences.

So instead of worrying about everything you need to do, a lot of commercial landlords are now opting to bring in an external maintenance company to manage these aspects for them. By doing this, you are ensuring that your property is compliant at all times, any works needed are completed by a reputable business that you trust, and you can relax and enjoy the perks of running your own commercial property.

For further information on planned maintenance for commercial properties, please call Aster Maintenance on 01252 844 055 or send us an enquiry.