When you rent a commercial space, you gain control over the entire space. You can renovate, install walls, and even move fixtures. In fact, you’re expected to. Because the interior design of each business is unique to the business model, commercial real estate grants a lot of freedom to the tenant. They are at once both free to change and manage the building however they please (limited by specific lease terms), and responsible for all of the bills and service fees that come with those choices.
However, many commercial tenants find themselves uncertain where their duties stop and the building owners’ begins. There is some grey area around building integrity and safety, but otherwise duties are clearly defined both by law and, ideally, by the terms of your lease.
The Commercial Landlord’s Responsibility
According to the law, the focus of responsibility is on the landlord. After all, they are providing the building that the business will be residing in. That building needs to be safe and provide some basic amenities or features needed to safely house any sort of employee. This means that the commercial landlord is responsible for essential repairs like the roof, foundation, and running water.
In shared properties like an office building with many commercial tenants, the landlord is more likely to be responsible for things like building-wide HVAC In buildings rented entirely by one commercial tenant, the tenant may take on more responsibility for things like the utility units.
The building manager is usually responsible for property safety, utilities availability (but not the bills) and any basic fixtures if they were part of the deal.
What Commercial Tenants are Responsible For
On the reverse side are tenant responsibilities. For commercial property, you are responsible for everything you are allowed to change. If your business installed it, your business is responsible for its repair and maintenance. This is true even of major renovations. You may, also, be responsible for any equipment or fixtures that came with the unit and are defined as part of the provided property. For example, the loading dock might come with cargo equipment you are expected to maintain.
Because commercial tenants have so much freedom, they are responsible for nearly complete self-maintenance. Your utilities and any damage caused by or to your installed structure is entirely your business. You may also need to take care of any wear and tear on, say, the plumbing while you are in residence.
Maintenance Responsibility in the Terms of Your Commercial Lease
The real definer of your responsibility, however, is your commercial lease. This is a legally binding agreement that the company and landlord signed at the beginning of the tenancy that defines their mutual duties. In a good lease, the landlord’s duties are outlined alongside the tenant’s.
Examine your lease to determine if maintenance is mentioned. If it is, determine if you are responsible for any other specific tasks like landscaping outside your storefront or regularly changing the HVAC filter. Your lease can absolutely assign maintenance tasks and that duty is legally binding once the lease is signed. Fortunately, leases also define the maintenance duty of your landlord so the balance can be fair and safe.
Returning a Commercial Unit
Finally, there is the duty to return the unit approximately as you found it. Your duty to maintain and repair is most acute at this time when it will soon be available for a new business tenant to rent. You will want to remove most of your renovations, repair all fixtures, and leave the unit approximately in the state it was when you moved in. A little wear-and-tear is acceptable but the cleaning and clearing-out necessary in a move can be a massive undertaking.
Whether you have maintenance defined in your lease or simply take good care of your commercial property, it can help to have a few extra hands ready to keep your facility spotlessly maintained. Contact us today for London commercial maintenance services.