Before signing on the dotted line and leasing a commercial property, ensure you know what your responsibilities are and what is required of you legally. Rules not only differ between renting privately and for commercial use, but also between leases. Clarifying this early on avoids any misunderstandings down the road. Also detailed in your contract will be the type of business carried out at the property, the renewal date, whether it’s a fixed-term lease and break clause conditions.
The main responsibilities you need to consider are health and safety and property maintenance. When first taking over the property, a health and safety risk assessment will be required to ensure there are no hazards in the vicinity. If any are found, they will need to be rectified immediately. Check your contract to see who is responsible; it could be you as the occupier, the landlord or the owner. Issues could include asbestos, ventilation, electrical equipment, gas and fire safety. Regular assessments and reviews will need to be carried out with plans put in place to ensure safety measures are upheld.
As a place of work, you will need to safeguard your staff and provide clean drinking water and toilet facilities. The temperature must be kept at an acceptable level and adequate lighting and air circulation should be provided. If there is a communal break-out area or kitchen, this will likely be covered by your landlord, but again, do check the contract.
When it comes to maintenance of the commercial unit, tenants usually have a ‘dilapidation’ clause written into the contract. This means the property must be left in the same state as when you first moved in and could entail you paying for new carpets and a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
The primary action here is reading the contract and clarifying any uncertainties before taking out the lease. Any responsibility not mentioned in the lease will likely fall to the tenant. If you are unsure about anything, do speak to a commercial property solicitor who will be able to advise or visit https://thomashwood.com/commercial/ to see our commercial property guide.