Responsibility for Maintenance
The lease will usually state who is responsible for maintenance of the property. In those properties that are multi-tenanted, e.g. office blocks, shopping parades or industrial estates, the landlord will usually be responsible for the repair and maintenance of the exterior of the building and common parts but the dividing lines can be complex.
Managing contractors is a complex area and the Landlord appointing a contractor needs to ensure that they are safe and comply with insurance requirements.
Health and Safety
The landlord has a duty of care to assess potential hazards where they exercise any control over a building or workspace. This is particularly relevant for the exterior and common areas of buildings and when property or unit is vacant.
A landlord is responsible for conducting regular risk assessments, surveys and other inspections.
Ensuring Fire Safety
Anyone who has control of premises or the means of fire escape can be responsible for fire safety and this includes duties to:
- Carry out and keep up to date fire risk assessments
- Take steps to prevent fires e.g. ensure electrical equipment is maintained
- Provide fire precautions to safeguard people using the premises e.g. escape routes, fire alarms, fire fighting equipment
Duty to Manage Asbestos
Whoever is responsible for maintaining all or parts of the building must also manage any asbestos in the premises. Depending on the terms of the lease this could be the Landlord or Tenant or both of them. This includes responsibility to:
- Take reasonable steps to determine the location and condition of any asbestos within the premises
- Keep an up to date record of the location and condition of such asbestos
- Assess the risk of the likelihood of anyone being exposed to the fibres from this material
- Prepare a management plan setting out how the risks from the materials are to be dealt with
- Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
- Review and monitor the plan periodically
- Provide information on the location and condition of any asbestos to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb it
The landlord needs to maintain suitable insurance for the premises, including rebuilding costs, property owner’s liability, engineering cover for lifts and other plant and machinery and employer’s liability insurance for any caretaker or staff employed on the site.
He also needs to deal with all insurance warranties and vacant property inspections in order to comply with insurers.
The Landord will need to negotiate and manage potentially complex utility supplies, with several sources of supply and the need to implement methods to recover usage from tenants who share the supplies. This can be through sub meter management or other means of fairly apportioning the costs.
Where there are common areas the landlord is able (subject to satisfactory clauses in the lease) to recover costs incurred on these areas as long as he follows a fair and auditable service charge recovery regime.
A landlord will need to ensure he manages leases effectively, especially on renewal or break clause. Inadequate planning can result in missed financial opportunity or a tenure he did not intend. A poorly worded lease can lead to difficult disputes with tenants.