When renting any property, whether residential or commercial, understanding landlord responsibilities makes every agreement and relationship easier. No matter which side of the agreement you’re on, making it clear what each party must take ownership of can ensure no one is left frustrated or caught by surprise when something happens.
For a tenant, understanding the agreement is essential to making the most of the time spent in the landlord’s property. For the landlord, however, there are obligations and responsibilities that must be met with each property you own, and these increase with multiple properties as there’s more to keep on top of. While there are agencies that can help, some want to keep on top of it themselves to maximise their profits, so knowing what falls into your remit is key to keeping things going smoothly.
What Do We Mean By Landlord Responsibilities?
Every property owner has responsibilities to make sure their building they own is fit for use and purpose. When using a property they own, everything falls under their control, while as a landlord, some aspects can be given to the tenant for the duration of their agreement. This is decided, and declared, in the rental agreement that both parties agree to, which sets out which party is responsible for what. We then have landlord responsibilities and tenant or leaseholder responsibilities.
Once agreed, all parts must be upheld by the agreed sides when a situation arises. Communication helps keep everyone informed, and if work is needed from both sides, then one will normally take the lead with help and support from the other.
For landlords with multiple properties, this is even more important as the landlord’s attention could be divided among different properties with all requiring work done. This does not diminish or absolve the landlord from resolving the issue appropriately, and must be taken into account.
Understanding The Rental Agreement
Before signing any rental agreement with a tenant to use your property, make sure it’s clear to both sides what the terms of that agreement include. This means that you, as a landlord, can be expected to take care of certain parts of the commercial property while it’s in use while the tenant looks after the rest. This can lower the demands made on your time and allow you to focus on other things, such as other properties or ventures.
While a template rental agreement can work in many cases, such as if you own multiple properties that are used in the same way, such as a group of offices or retail units, if you own properties that can be used by businesses in different industries, you might be better having agreements specific to the way those organisations operate. It means more to be aware of at any one time, but ensures everything is covered clearly.
What Are Landlord Responsibilities?
The landlord of any commercial property will always have some responsibility over the building – regardless of who’s using it and for how long. It is your property, after all, and to make sure it brings a return on your investment, you need to make sure it’s not only usable but also a desirable location for potential tenants.
With a standard rental agreement, the responsibility of a landlord is made clear at the beginning of the lease, however these can be changed before finalisation to suit each property, tennant or situation. However, you might find the following are things landlords are responsible for on most properties.
Safety Checks And Concerns
Anything to do with safety of the property tends to be a part of a landlord’s repair responsibilities. This is because these checks remain the same regardless of who is leasing the property and they are stipulated by laws and regulations.
It is a commercial landlord’s responsibility to ensure the building is safe at all times, and this covers a number of areas and checks, such as:
- Electrical systems and checks – wiring, lighting, alarm systems, building security systems
- Appliances and equipment checks – PAT testing, external inspections (but only those supplied by the property owner, not the leaseholder
- Fire safety checks – fire alarms, extinguishers, fire escapes and routes, fire safety signage.
As the building owner, these landlords are ultimately responsible for anything that needs to be checked, repaired, installed or improved. Despite this, the tenant should also have their own Health and Safety checks and processes, too.
Landlord Repair Responsibilities For A Property
As landlords are responsible for the building, if there are repairs to be made to the structure of the building, then you would have to take ownership of this. If the cause of the damage is identified coming from a tenant and how they operate the business, the costs may be recovered from them as dictated in the lease. Arranging the work must be done by the landlord, though, and any necessary safety checks before and after completion will come under this, too.
Any extensions or conversions to the property are also at the direction of the property owner, as it’s not something a leaseholder can take with them at the end without leaving the property in a different state than when the agreement began.
Is A Landlord Responsible For Pest Control?
Whether the landlord is responsible for pest control depends on the situation – and lease. The source of the infestation can also determine who is responsible for handling the situation, and whether there are other tenants who are affected by the problem.
If the cause is a structural issue, such as gaps or holes that allow the pests inside, this will definitely be an issue for the landlord to solve. If it’s caused by the tenant’s business and how it operates, then it will be for them to solve. If it spreads to another tenant in the property, the landlord may have to get involved to coordinate efforts and ensure everyone is doing what needs to be done, however.
What Is The Landlord Not Responsible For?
Again, with the caveat that each rental agreement can be different, in most cases, the landlord can leave some of the property’s care and general maintenance to the tenant. In most cases, properties are rented empty, so most equipment, furniture and a lot of the appliances will be the responsibility of the tenant.
These commercial properties are decorated to a neutral design, and it is the tenant’s decision to redecorate – although this is usually done with the landlord’s permission. In most cases, colours and styles that will make the space harder to rent again will not be allowed unless it is redecorated at the end of the agreement, but this depends on communication between both parties.
Small pieces of damage that do not affect the structure or safety of the property will in most cases not be the responsibility of the landlord unless agreed at the beginning of the lease, but all issues and remedial work should still be recorded.
How Do Commercial Landlord Responsibilities Differ From Residential?
It might be easy to assume that the responsibilities of a residential landlord and a commercial landlord will be the same – and while there will be some instances of crossover between them, there are big changes depending on how the property is used.
For both, making sure the property is in a fit state to be used falls to the landlord, and this includes Health and Safety checks and fixtures that could harm occupants if they’re not in good working condition. Commercial landlord responsibilities are also different because depending on the purpose of the commercial property, there are more risks and hazards that need to be identified, recorded and resolved for the building to be used safely.
As the difference comes from how he building is used, and who uses it, there are different focuses, such as:
- The number of people using the property on a regular basis
- The emergency escape exits and routes
- Appliances included
- Alarms and security systems installed
- Amount of space per person.
Every property has different layouts and structures, so a landlord of a residential property will have to look at how people living in a property differs from those working in one.
Looking To Find Out More About What Landlords Are Responsible For?
The responsibilities of a landlord can be confusing, and if you are thinking about moving into property ownership and management, you’ll need to know what your responsibilities are. While rental agreements can be routine, some can be altered to be more beneficial to each tenant – but this requires an understanding of who’s responsible for what and when.
Commercial landlord responsibilities can change at any time due to new laws and regulations, so keeping up with the trends and developments can help you stay ahead of the curve. If you want to know more about a landlord’s responsibilities, either because you own multiple properties already or are looking to expand your portfolio, contact the team at Williams Sillitoe now.