Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Commercial Property Tenant and landlord

Here at Boxpod, we successfully match up swathes of commercial landlords with people who are looking for commercial property for their business, providing a business match made in Heaven. Although landlords and their tenants have dedicated contracts between them that outline the rights and responsibilities of each of the parties, the government also outlines how both the landlord and the tenant should be behaving during the tenure of the agreement.

The government provides details about the rights and responsibilities of each party which should be followed in addition to the agreement in the lease that is held between the two of you.

Here we are going to explain the general rights and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord when they enter into an agreement with each other. Of course, all of the details should be clearly set out in the contract between both parties before anyone moves in.

For the tenant…

Health and Safety

The responsibility for the health and safety of the property and those who are working in it belongs to both the tenant and the landlord. The tenant should carry out a health and safety risk assessment to be able to successfully evaluate the state of the health and safety in the building and ensure that it is in a fit state for what you are using it for.

As a general rule, the tenant, in terms of health and safety, has the responsibility for:

  • Fire safety in general – including fire risk assessments, evacuation procedures and training of staff, and the upkeep of fire equipment
  • Gas safety – including arranging for gas safety engineer inspections where necessary (if applicable)
  • Electrical safety – ensuring that electrical equipment is properly maintained, including PAT testing
  • Ensuring that any asbestos that is present is properly maintained

Other health and safety considerations for the tenant of a commercial property can include:

  • That there are adequate toilet and washing facilities
  • That any equipment that is provided is safe to use and stored properly
  • That the indoor temperature is kept to within the guidelines – (16°C, or 13°C if physical work is being carried out)
  • That the workplace has adequate lighting
  • That the workplace has adequate ventilation
  • That drinking water is provided

It is also important to note that the landlord of a commercial property has some health and safety responsibilities – especially in communal areas. As a tenant, you should be checking that the landlord is also fulfilling these responsibilities.

Repairs and Maintenance

Your responsibilities relating to the repairs and maintenance of the property should be written into your lease agreement. Any repairs that are needed and not written into your lease agreement will normally be managed by the tenant.

As a tenant, you will also need to make sure that you use and run the property so that it is kept in good condition – including returning it to the landlord in the same condition as you got it in when you eventually leave.

Fixtures and fittings will be the responsibility of the tenant only when it is something that they have installed themselves and not anything that was already there before they moved in.

For the Landlord…

If you are the landlord of a commercial property, you will usually keep responsibility for the exterior walls, roof, and foundations of the property. You should also bear in mind that:

If you have organised for a gas safety certificate to be carried out, you must provide it to the tenant within 28 days of the gas safety check.

It is recommended that you get an electrical safety check carried out every five years, as well as before the lease begins to help to ensure the safety of your tenants.

If there is asbestos present within the commercial building, you should make the tenant aware of it and stipulate in the lease agreement that they ensure that it is safe and well-maintained.

You should consider getting buildings insurance taken out on your commercial property. This will ensure that you get the best policy for you – and the right kind of cover that you require. Generally speaking, the cost of the buildings’ insurance will be passed onto the tenant through the rental amount that is paid each month.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards – or MEES – is an essential requirement for renting a commercial property. You will normally need to supply an Energy Performance Certificate – or EPC- before your tenants move in. The assessment for an EPC will look at how energy efficient the building is and will give it a rating of between ‘A’ and ‘G’. As of 1st April 2023, a rented commercial property must have an energy efficiency rating of ‘E’ or above. There are some exceptions, however, if, for example, your commercial property is a listed building or temporary structure.

You should also ensure that the fixtures and fittings are properly installed and maintained, as well as safe to use – and the person that is responsible for them is clearly stated in the lease agreement between the two parties. The term ‘fixtures and fittings’ relates to systems such as lighting and heating systems, as well as items such as pictures, and responsibility for these is taken by whoever supplied and installed them.

Multiple Tenants

If you are letting your commercial property out to multiple different commercial tenants, you will almost certainly need to remain responsible for the communal areas. This will normally include maintenance and cleaning of the area.

Final Thoughts

When a rental agreement is made between a landlord and a tenant, the rights and responsibilities of each party should be set out in the lease agreement or contract between them. Although each party will have legal responsibilities, these will be backed up by the details that are stipulated in the contract, which must be obeyed by both parties to remain legal.

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