26th November 2019
Being an occupier of a commercial property comes with various responsibilities – on top of running your business and carrying out the day job!
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant you have a legal responsibility to ensure that premises are well maintained and safe for people to work in or visit. This will include ensuring that you are following the correct procedures and safety measures when it comes to gas, electricity and building works, along with carrying out your own health & safety risk assessments.
An employer is also responsible for providing a reasonable temperature, space, ventilation, lighting, toilets and washing facilities, drinking water and safe equipment. If the employer fails to comply with health and safety laws then it can be prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Depending on your lease terms, some responsibilities will sit with the landlord, others will sit with the tenant, and some will effectively be the responsibility of both parties.
When in doubt – check your lease, ensure you have a paper trail and always err on the side of caution.
Two of the most common – but often forgotten responsibilities are;
The Control of Asbestos Regulations
These Regulations require the occupier to have regular surveys for asbestos carried out and to have health and safety plans in place to protect staff and contractors from the risk of exposure to asbestos. Even if you are a tenant, and the landlord provides a copy of its report for the property, it is important for the tenant to consider whether it needs to carry out its own survey and to keep this up to date.
Asbestos should not be present in buildings constructed after 2000, and the presence of asbestos does not mean that it automatically needs to be removed, or that the building in unusable, but any work that you carry out to a part of the building containing asbestos may need to be done by a licenced contractor and carefully managed.
The Fire Safety Order
Any occupier of commercial premises is required to carry out regular assessments of fire safety risks and ensure adequate plans are in place. Again, even if a landlord provides a copy of its risk assessment, a tenant has a separate duty to maintain its own records and policy documents for the premises it occupies. Duties will include carrying out general fire precautions, risk assessments and ensuring that all fire safety equipment (such as extinguishers) and emergency exits are fit for purpose.
Failure to comply with the Order is liable to a fine and, in the most serious cases, imprisonment if proceedings are brought in the Crown Court.
If you are a landlord or a tenant of a commercial property and need guidance on your responsibilities or help with a new transaction then please get in touch with our specialist Commercial Property Team on 01256 844888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to our Live Chat assistant on our website.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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