There is often confusion between landlord and tenant responsibilities and you must check the tenancy agreement to work out what you, as a tenant, are responsible for and what the landlord must do.
If you are reading this section before moving into commercial premises, make sure the landlord is not passing on hidden costs. For example, if you are the sole occupant of rented premises, the landlord may have written a tenancy agreement making you responsible for the EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report), which must be carried out at least every five years (sometimes more frequently if the premises are old) which can carry a significant cost. You might also find that you are expected to pay for a legionella risk assessment, an asbestos survey, boiler inspections and more. As a prospective tenant, you could be forgiven for thinking that many of these are conditions which should be addressed by the landlord BEFORE renting out the premises so that incoming tenants can be sure that they will be safe. These points represent bargaining chips when you are negotiating terms. Unfortunately, some tenants are unaware of the legal duties associated with commercial premises and end up paying for a lot more than their rent.
The workplace must be safe, not only for those who are based in it but for visitors, delivery drivers, maintenance workers and neighbours. This category will explain what has to be done to ensure a building is safe for occupation. The responsibility for carrying out these legal duties must be determined between tenant and landlord.
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
- Fire legislation
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
- Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 as amended
- Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
Health and Safety Myth
Facilities management uses health and safety as an excuse
An office worker was told that he cannot have the keys to open the windows in his office on the 3rd floor as this would breach health and safety. The windows run almost floor to ceiling, with the top section opening inwards. Standing next to the window, the open section is just below the worker’s chest height (he is 6ft tall). With summer coming, the office is getting hotter, and he is unable to have any fresh air in the building.
Frequently asked questions
Before you do anything, check the tenancy agreement to make sure that the landlord hasn’t passed responsibility for safety checks on to the tenants. If you are satisfied that the landlord is responsible, list all the checks you think are required. For instance: fire safety checks, fire drills, keeping escape routes clear, maintenance of safety equipment such as emergency lights, security measures etc, inadequate cleaning regime. Keep a record and take photographs. Report your concerns to the landlord and set a date for a response. If you don’t hear within the allotted time, contact your Local Environmental Health Department at the local authority.
If possible, get together with the other tenants in the building and write a joint letter/email to the landlord. State the date on which then lift broke down. If you have staff and/or visitors who depend upon the lift due to disabilities or accessibility problems, provide the landlord with the relevant details. Tell the landlord that you will be withholding a percentage of your rent, as provision of the lift is part of what you are paying for. Before actually withholding payment, seek legal advice that you are permitted to do this – often, the threat will work, and you won’t have to take this step.