Know your commercial landlord responsibilities around safety

What are your legal responsibilities as a commercial landlord? There are several laws in place that aim to make sure that commercial properties are safe, healthy places for people to work.

Make sure you understand your responsibilities and consider finding adequate insurance to cover you should any problems arise.

Fire Safety

Usually it falls on the tenant to take care of fire safety. There are some exceptions to this rule. If a landlord maintains responsibility for safety on the premises (which will be defined in the lease) then fire safety can fall within that agreement. Make sure your lease is clear and that all parties understand their responsibilities.  

Fixtures and Fittings

Fixtures and fittings need to be properly installed and safe to use. Some fittings, particularly electrical equipment, may need a safety certificate. Responsibility for these certificates is usually with the tenant. If you are supplying any electrical equipment then you should check the safety guidelines and outline responsibilities in your lease.


It is essential that you lay out the terms of maintenance and repair obligations in your lease. The person responsible for maintenance and repair will be the person  responsible for asbestos . If you do not set this out in the lease then the responsibility may automatically fall to you as the landlord.

If asbestos is found on the premises it may not be necessary to remove it, but you will need to include it in any risk assessments. Penalties for not managing the risk of asbestos are severe:

  • a fine of up to £20,000 for an individual or unlimited fines for companies (Marks & Spencer was fined £1,000,000 in 2011)

  • Loss of Directorship

  • Up to two years in prison

Make sure you are clear on your responsibilities and that you handle them efficiently.

Top tips for asbestos:

  • Clearly state responsibility for asbestos in the lease

  • If there is asbestos on your property you must carry out a survey to find out exactly where it is

  • Include any asbestos in your health and safety risk assessment

  • If your property is empty or derelict you still need to do an asbestos survey


Responsibility for the electrical appliances within a commercial property is split between the landlord and the leaseholder. As with most health and safety issues, the exact terms should be set out clearly in the lease. The landlord’s responsibility is usually related to the general care of the wiring system. You should carry out an electrical safety check on a regular basis and keep the certificate.


When it comes to gas appliances, most of the responsibility is with the tenant of the property. Again, this will need to be made clear in the lease. Any gas appliances supplied by you, the landlord, will need to be safety-checked.

The Lease

The lease should give a clear and coherent understanding of health and safety responsibilities within your commercial property. Make sure that you are happy with the terms of your lease and that you understand exactly what your responsibilities are. 

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