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As a tenant, you may be wondering who is responsible for carrying out repairs for damage to your commercial premises. Ultimately, this will depend on the terms of your lease. There are no specific laws on who will be responsible for certain types of damage. However, there are some issues which are typically the landlord’s responsibility and some which are typically yours. This article will outline:

  • some common types of damage to premises; and 
  • who will usually be responsible for fixing it.

Broken Windows

As the tenant, broken windows will usually be your responsibility to repair. However, you may need to notify the landlord in writing when a window is broken. Many leases will also require tenants to take out plate glass insurance, which provides coverage for any damaged or broken glass including:

  • shop windows; and 
  • external windows. 

Leakages

Generally, a leak found in the premises will require a structural repair. Structural maintenance and repairs are usually the landlord’s responsibility. Ideally, this obligation should be:

  • included in the lease as part of the landlord’s obligations; and
  • expressly excluded from your repair and maintenance obligations.

Even if the landlord must repair the damage, most leases will state that you must give the landlord prompt and immediate notice of any damage that you wish them to repair. 

Air Conditioning

Repairing air conditioning will typically be your responsibility. Usually, a lease will state that a tenant is responsible for maintaining the air conditioning in continuous working order. Your lease may also require you to enter into a maintenance contract with an air conditioning service provider.  

Under your lease, you may need to have the air conditioning repaired at specific intervals, such as every 6 months. You may also be required to provide a report to the landlord as evidence.

While air conditioning repairs and maintenance is usually the tenant’s responsibility during the term, the lease may require the landlord to take some responsibility before the term commences. 

For example, if air conditioning has not yet been installed, you may wish to ask the landlord to install the air conditioning for you.  Alternatively, if air conditioning is already present, you could ask the landlord to ensure that it is in good working order before your term begins.

Fire Safety Equipment

Fire safety equipment is a complex issue. Usually, the landlord will: 

  • install basic fire safety equipment on the premises (e.g. fire sprinklers), and
  • be responsible for repairing any fire safety equipment (unless the lease specifies otherwise). 

However, many leases now require the tenant to complete fire safety maintenance and repairs and to comply with any orders by fire safety authorities regarding the fire safety equipment on the premises. You may need to:

  • comply with yearly inspections by fire safety authorities; and
  • make any necessary changes if any equipment is damaged or not up to standard.

If your business fitout requires you to rearrange the fire safety equipment on the premises, you will usually have to cover the cost of doing so.

For example, you might need to move the fire safety smoke alarms in order to install ceiling lights. 

Key Takeaways

Usually, who should carry out repairs to your premises will be set out in your lease. It is important that you consider the types of damage you might face and discuss any potential issues with your landlord before entering the lease. This can help you to avoid potential disputes or unexpected costs in the future. If you need help with reviewing your lease, please contact LegalVision’s leasing lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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