If you own commercial property, you are expected to maintain your property to strict guidelines in order to abide by legal requirements. This is even more important if you have members of the public entering or walking on your property or if you are a landlord in charge of tenanted buildings. If your property or structures are not regularly maintained or you have no evidence proving otherwise and someone was to become injured due to negligence, you can be held responsible and could even find yourself in a costly legal situation. It’s best to be prepared and proactive, rather than needing to react after the incident has happened.
Here are some tips on ensuring your commercial property is completely up to scratch this winter;
Boilers and Hot Water
Heating and hot water are required at the most basic level and without heating or hot water, a tenant can seek legal advice and potential action if the landlord refuses to or delays making repairs or maintaining existing systems. Boilers and gas appliances should be serviced at minimum once a year by a qualified professional. Getting booked in over the spring and summer are the best times as engineers aren’t going out on as many emergency call-outs and likely have more free time. This is particularly helpful if you have a problem with your boiler or gas appliance as the repair should have a shorter turn around than requiring assistance during the colder months.
Landlords: Ensure you have had a professional gas engineer check over and sign off gas appliances and the property boiler for another year. Ask tenants to report any issues or queries to the gas engineer while he is in the property to ensure small issues like loss of insulation on outdoor pipes or air-filled radiators are taken care of promptly.
Walkways and Paths
If you own a commercial business and individuals will be walking across your forecourt or down pre-laid paths on your property, you need to ensure these walkways are safe and fit for purpose, especially during the winter months when surfaces can become slippery and unsafe. Where a new pathway needs to be laid, avoid using fresh concrete in minus temperatures as it can take weeks to cure and have an increased chance of cracking as it dries. Instead, opt for a safe, temporary pathway with studded or grooved surfaces to offer anti-slip protection.
Landlords: If you require restoration of a historic building or structure due to unsafe concrete defects. Consider getting in touch with your local concrete restoration service or contractor, who can help retouch an area or give advice on protecting exposed areas over the winter, preventing further damage.
Damp and Vermin
While not all circumstances of damp are down to the landlord to take care of, for instance if there is increased condensation but sufficient ventilation is in place that the tenant is not making use of. However, damp issues caused by penetrating or rising damp can be down to the landlord to make repairs. It’s best to contact a dedicated damp proofing company who can offer a survey to find the type of damp and cause behind it and offer a comprehensive repair service. A similar clause is included for infestations or vermin problems in the property, if it is down to the tenant living irresponsibly, the landlord is not required to fix the issue however, issues out of the control of the tenant are down to the landlord to seek a solution.
Landlords: Always seek advice from a professional, many reputable companies offer free surveys to find the cause of the problem and give an estimation of repair costs. This is also necessary for protecting the landlord if the problem has been caused by the tenant.
Roof and Structure
Landlords and property managers are solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of property structures and roofs. Trusted tenants will soon report issues or queries, although you may want to check in once or twice a year to survey the property for any potential problems that could arise. Keeping on top of general maintenance can prevent costly repairs when things do go wrong, although it’s advantageous to have comprehensive buildings insurance that can protect against weather or accidental damage. It’s always important to keep an eye on roof maintenance as this can lead to further problems in the property, including leaks, damp, vermin infestations and even lead to structural defects throughout the rest of the building.
Landlords: Check you have comprehensive buildings insurance in place and policies are fully up to date. Once or twice a year perform a structural survey on property structures and roofs to ensure there are no small issues that could lead to costly repairs.
Getting your commercial properties up to standards before the extreme winter weather can not only protect your tenants from uncomfortable living conditions, for example, a loss of heat, but can help protect your own wallet against expensive repairs. So, get prepared now and save yourself down the line.