When it comes to landlord and tenant Health & Safety, responsibility is shared.
Landlords and tenants of commercial premises are responsible for maintaining their properties and for the Health & Safety of anyone in them especially where gas, fire and electrical safety is concerned.
Statutory law increasingly imposes a specific duty to co-operate where properties are divided into let areas and common parts.
Tenants who employ people have a general duty to provide a safe environment and system of work. This involves ensuring the workplace meets certain basic requirements including:
- having an appropriate temperature
- providing enough space, ventilation and lighting
- supplying suitable sanitation and washing facilities
- providing drinking water
- maintaining equipment
- keeping premises clean and waste-free
Landlords and managing agents may share these responsibilities if they have some control over the workplace. This is especially relevant where several businesses operate in the same building and use common areas.
For example, where there is a service charge for cleaning and maintaining the stairs or lift, or for the use of toilet facilities, then its likely the landlord will be responsible for making sure Health & Safety rules are followed in those areas.
In serviced offices or business centres, the landlord may also assume responsibility for regular risk assessment.
Occupiers (whether employer or self-employed) must make sure gas appliances, installation pipework or flues installed in their workplace are kept in a safe condition.
Equipment must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves an annual service by a CORGI-registered engineer. Although the lease may be helpful in setting out the practical arrangements for ensuring these requirements are met, direct legal responsibility remains with the workplace occupier.
The landlord or managing agents may also have duties under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 such as safely maintaining heating equipment in common parts. The lease can be used to allocate responsibilities.
If any part of the property is used for residential purposes, the duties of a residential landlord for gas safety including an annual safety check apply.
Anyone having control of premises or some control over part of them will be responsible for fire safety. If having control, you must:
- carry out a fire risk assessment. Consider the possible risks to anyone who might be affected and keep the assessment up to date
- take steps to prevent fires such as making sure electrical equipment is maintained
- safeguard people using the workplace by taking fire precautions, for example, through escape routes, fire-resistant doors and walls, fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment
- train staff in fire safety
In commercial buildings, these responsibilities are normally shared by the landlord and tenant. For example, in multi-occupied office blocks that house several employers, all tenants have responsibility for those parts of the building used by their employees.
The landlord or managing agent:
- must make sure fire regulations are complied with on common staircases
- is responsible for maintaining and checking shared fire safety equipment covering the whole building
In commercial premises, responsibility for electrical safety will likely be decided by the lease. It should set out whether the tenant, landlord or managing agent has this duty.
Tenant businesses must assess the risks of using electricity at work. Tenants must take steps to control those risks including:
- making sure electrical installations are safe
- providing suitable equipment
- carrying out preventative maintenance
- having safe systems of work
However, landlords will likely have a duty of care for wiring systems and electrical equipment.
Before leasing properties landlords should carry out electrical safety checks.