There are numerous statutory requirements that apply to the ownership and occupation of commercial properties. Given the recent changes to regulations on the energy efficiency of commercial properties we have produced a summary of the key regulations and who is responsible for them.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's)
EPC's are required by all commercial property owners who rent out or sell their property, unless an exemption applied, and they must be renewed every 10 years. There have been significant changes to EPC regulations of late. The current regulations prevent a landlord from granting a new tenancy where the EPC has a rating lower than E. The changes to the regulations to be aware of are as follows:
- As of 1 April 2023, the regulations will also apply to all existing tenancies, not just new tenancies.
- As of 1 April 2027, the minimum efficiency rating of the property is raised to C.
- As of 1 April 2030, the minimum efficient rating of the property is raised to B.
If you fail to make a valid EPC available to a prospective buyer or tenant, you may face enforcement action and be fined between £500.00 and £5,000.00.
Health & Safety
The responsibility of Health and Safety in a commercial property and the workplace is likely to fall upon the tenant as an employer, but landlords should be aware that they will be responsible for healthy and safety in any communal areas that can be accessed by more than one tenant.
A guide for workplace health and safety can be accessed on the Gov.uk website which summarises those responsibilities in full. Responsibilities include but are not limited to providing safe equipment, toilet facilities, space, ventilation, light and drinking water.
If you fail to comply with healthy and safety regulations, you may be prosecuted.
The responsibility of fire safety regulations falls with the 'Responsible Person' who is in control of the premises. The terms of the lease must stipulate who is responsible for complying with statutory requirements and you should be familiar with those requirements. It may also be that the landlord and tenant have overlapping responsibilities.
The responsibilities vary depending on the size of the premises, but can include:
- Carrying out and regularly reviewing a fire safety assessment - If you do not feel competent in carrying out the assessment yourself, you can enlist the services of an expert assessor to assist you.
- All business premises must have a working fire detection system in place.
- Clear signage indicating fire exits.
- Keeping firefighting equipment on site such as fire extinguishers and sprinklers.
Failure to comply with fire safety regulations could not only lead to enforcement and an unlimited fine but also up to 2 years imprisonment.
The responsibility of the control of asbestos within a commercial property falls with the 'Duty Holder' which is the person required to maintain and repair the premises or who has control over the premises. Again, it can often be a shared responsibility, but you should review the terms of the lease for clarity as the landlord may place most of the obligations upon the tenant. If the building has common parts which can be accessed by more than one tenant, then the landlord is likely to hold sole responsibility for that area.
The regulations state that you must take steps to find out if there is asbestos at the property and it is recommended an accredited surveyor is instructed to the inspection for safety reasons. If asbestos is located, it does not necessarily need to be removed unless the surveyor advises you to do so, but you must form and follow a system for safely managing the asbestos.
If the property has asbestos and you do not have a plan for its safe management, you may be subject to enforcement action, an unlimited fine and imprisonment of up to 2 years.
This article is not intended to be an extensive guide to all statutory requirements that should be considered by landlords and tenants but a snapshot of some of the considerations that must be made. We urge landlords and tenants to consult government guidance and familiarise with the regulations imposed upon commercial properties.
Whether you are a proposed or existing landlord or tenant of a commercial property, please contact us on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an Enquiry' form on our website for advice on your responsibilities.
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*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.