Health and safety concerns for commercial premises
26 March 2019 by Ellen Petersen
In acting for commercial landlord or tenant clients, we are always asked to confirm what the parties respective obligations are. The various health and safety responsibilities for commercial premises are set out below. In most circumstances, a landlord has initial responsibility before a commercial lease is granted. When the new lease is completed, a tenant will become the responsible party (in succession to the landlord or a previous tenant) for taking particular obligations further. See our brief guide below:
Landlord’s responsibilities before the grant of the new lease will include:
Compliance with Fire Regulations:
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 imposes various duties on the ‘responsible person’ to identify fire risk with an obligation to manage the risk and possibly to install and maintain suitable fire safety equipment;
Gas Safety requirements:
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, the landlord will have to produce evidence of annual maintenance of all gas installations by a registered engineer. Records must also be kept for at least two years;
Compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012:
The Regulations impose responsibility on the ‘dutyholder’, to manage any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) at the premises. The ‘dutyholder’ is the owner, person or organisation that has responsibility for the maintenance or repair of the premises;
There is no legal requirement to produce an electrical safety certificate prior to the grant of a lease. However, the Electrical Safety Council has made recommendations as to how testing should be carried out and how often. These recommendations are to ensure that electrical safety is maintained; as well as to ensure all reasonable steps and precautions are taken to keep your tenant safe. As such, you are recommended to carry out safety testing every five years or on a change of tenancy.
Once the lease is completed, the above responsibilities usually pass to the tenant as the person with ‘control’ of the premises. Particular circumstances can arise, however, where the landlord may agree a continuing responsibility for health and safety. For example, if the landlord or managing agent provides services to the premises for which a service charge is payable. Or there may be a situation where there are shared premises and in which case, there may be more than one responsible person or body. Care must be taken to expressly allocate in the lease who is responsible for what, to avoid dispute between the parties or breach of any of the Regulations.
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, undertaking a risk assessment in relation to the above duties is imperative. Please do note that failure to comply with the Regulations mentioned above could result in a substantial fine and/or imprisonment for the responsible party.
If you would like further information regarding the above, please speak to the commercial property team here at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP on 01206 700113 or email [email protected]