As a local shop, newsagent or convenience store owner, it is important to make sure your building is regularly maintained. Cutting back on maintenance costs may seem like a way to save money but it can mean increased bills in the long run. Failure to look after your premises can also cause major issues such as electrical fires or flooding, resulting in damage to the buildings, contents and stock, and increasing the likelihood of employees, customers or other visitors suffering an injury and making a claim against you.
In this blog, we have pulled together information about what you need to know as a commercial property owner and/or landlord, from your legal responsibilities to how to make sure your premises are safe, secure and a welcoming haven for staff and customers. If you are looking for our blog for maintaining your business premises as a tenant, click here.
Some of the information below has been taken from guidance provided by the Commercial Tenants Association (CTA) and the National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA). Please note it is important to always check current legal requirements with your lawyer or real estate agent or refer to an industry organisation for the latest information and advice for landlords and tenants.
Handy hints for commercial property owners and landlords
As a commercial property owner or landlord, you have a duty to make sure your business property is safe for anyone who uses it, including your tenants if it is rented out.
1. Health and safety
Whilst the responsibility for health and safety usually falls on the tenant, as a commercial landlord you are responsible for complying with Fire Safety Regulations and for providing a workplace with a reasonable temperature, adequate lighting, space and ventilation, safe equipment, drinking water, toilets and washing facilities.
2. Fixtures and fittings
As a commercial property owner or landlord, you are responsible for all the fixtures and fittings you own and must ensure that they are installed safely and maintained properly. If you rent out your premises, you may agree with your tenant that additional fixtures and fittings can be installed. In the event of a claim, these would be the tenant’s responsibility. It is a good idea to include reference to this in the lease.
3. Gas and electricity
If you are the commercial property owner or landlord, you are responsible, by law, for ensuring your property’s electrical system is safe. You should have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) carried out by a registered electrician before letting out the property and the installation should be inspected every five years.
Gas safety may be the responsibility of either you or your tenant depending on the terms you lay down in the lease. However, you will usually be responsible for the safety of both electrical and gas installations in any communal areas.
4. General maintenance
Generally, as a commercial property owner or landlord, you are responsible for structural repairs (floors, roofs, foundations, and major walls) while your tenant should take care of maintenance and repairs of things such as internal plumbing or air-conditioning systems. You should ensure that the lease clearly sets out these responsibilities to avoid any ambiguity.
Commercial landlords are encouraged to follow the code for leasing business premises in England and Wales. Published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in consultation with various regulatory and trade bodies, whilst not legally binding it sets out recommendations for relating to lease negotiations, management, rent guarantees and deposits, rent reviews, break clauses and renewals, alterations and changes of use, assignment and subletting, and insurance.