Being the landlord of a commercial property carries with it a wide range of different responsibilities.
While details vary from one tenancy agreement to the next concerning who does what, when it comes to general maintenance and upkeep, landlords are ultimately accountable for the health and safety of their tenants.
Central to this is carrying out regular safety assessments and maintenance checks, including for utilities and appliances. Remaining compliant with statutory regulations in this area is a big task.
Kevin Welsby from Stockport based Red Rock Facilities Management provides us with his Expert Opinion:
Critically, most checks and audits need to be updated at regular intervals. The full schedule of what is required to stay compliant is complex and often confusing. It is not unusual for landlords to fall foul of the regulations because they have simply forgotten when a check is overdue.
Here is a brief overview of the key compliance demands any commercial landlord faces to stay onside with health and safety regulations.
Electrical Fixtures and Appliances
Although there is nothing specific in law outlining the electrical safety obligations shared between commercial landlords and their tenants, the Consumer Protection Act 1987 states that any person supplying goods or equipment for use by another has a duty of care to ensure it is in safe working order.
In other words, landlords are responsible for the safety and maintenance of any electrical fixtures and appliances supplied with their premises – including Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) for any small devices supplied. On the other hand, any electrical equipment owned and supplied by the tenant will be their responsibility.
The statutory requirements for electrical safety testing are complex as they are determined by the risk of an appliance becoming faulty. In practice, that means it varies for every appliance, and every location it is used in. Regardless, failure to maintain electrical fixtures and appliances is a criminal offence, so inspection a minimum of every 12 months by a UK certified electrical engineer is recommended.
Gas Safety and Maintenance
The regulations on gas safety are much clearer than they are for electrical appliances. If you have gas appliances at your premises, whether mains or portable, as a landlord you must by law arrange an annual safety inspection by a certified engineer and keep a record of all checks. In addition, you are responsible for repairing and maintaining all pipework, flues and appliances in safe working order, meaning you must address problems immediately regardless of when the next safety check is due.
Fire Safety & Alarms
Under health and safety law, legal responsibility for fire safety in commercial premises is likely to be shared between various ‘responsible people’ – landlords, employers, occupiers and facilities or site managers. In shared premises, this can be a lot of people carrying out risk assessments and having to put together fire safety plans together.
The key responsibility most landlords will have is the maintenance of building-wide fire and smoke detection and alarm systems, plus fire extinguishers and other fire fighting devices. The rules on inspection are strict – alarm systems must be checked several times a year by a qualified professional. If this regime is not kept up and equipment is found to have been neglected, landlords can face hefty fines, as well as their insurance being voided in the event of a fire.
Health and safety responsibilities place a heavy burden on commercial property landlords, and the consequence of not staying on top of testing and inspections can be disastrous.