The health and safety responsibilities in a rented business premises belong to the tenant, and in some cases the landlord.
If you are a tenant in commercial property and employ staff, you must ensure the workplace meets a number of basic requirements under health and safety rules. These include:
- ensuring the workplace temperature is appropriate
- providing sufficient space, ventilation and lighting
- providing suitable sanitation and washing facilities
- providing drinking water
- maintaining equipment
- keeping the premises clean and free of waste
You must carry out a health and safety risk assessment in the workplace and take steps to remove any hazards and potential risks.
Landlords and commercial property managing agents may have a duty to share these responsibilities if they exercise any control over your workplace. This is particularly relevant where several businesses operate in the same building and they share the use of common areas.
If, for example, you pay a service charge for the stairs or for a lift to be cleaned and maintained and for use of toilet facilities, it's likely that your landlord will have responsibility for ensuring compliance with health and safety rules in these areas.
Serviced offices or business centres
In serviced offices or business centres, your landlord may also be responsible for conducting a regular health and safety risk assessment.
Remember, however, that if the landlord does take on such responsibilities, you must check that they are fulfilling them.
You should also co-operate with other tenants in the same building on health and safety issues.
The division of these health and safety responsibilities will often be the subject of negotiation between landlords and tenants from case to case. It's important to check what's set out in the rental lease. Commercial tenancy agreements often put the onus for safety on the tenant.