Unlike residential properties, for commercial properties, there is no implied warranty of habitability or explicit statutory repair obligations. Rather, the responsibility for repairs is typically governed by the terms of the commercial lease agreement.
Generally, a landlord will not be held to any duty of repairs unless the lease expressly requires it. However, unless the lease makes a different allocation, the landlord is responsible for keeping in good repair those areas over which it retains control, i.e. the common areas. In some situations, even though the landlord is responsible for making the repairs, the cost of such maintenance can be apportioned among all of the tenants.
Similarly, absent a provision in the lease, tenants are not under any “general” duty to correct defective conditions at the subject premises. However, tenants are still responsible to make any corrections necessary to prevent waste or fix any damage or conditions caused by the tenants’ own lack of care.
The above rules are further subject to statutory and local government rules and regulations affecting the maintenance, repair and use of the premises. For example, even if there is no provision in the lease that clearly states who is responsible for repairs, a landlord owner may bear the burden of complying with health and safety regulations. On the other hand, if the tenant’s change of use of the property results in the property not complying with local or state regulations, the tenant bears the burden of conforming the new use to the requirements.
Ultimately, who is responsible for repairs needs to be examined on a case by case basis, with the lease as the starting point.
Schorr Law has experience with resolving commercial lease disputes related to repairs and other issues. To see if you qualify for a free 30-minute consultation regarding your matter, please contact us by phone, email, or send us a message through our contact form.
See related: Reviewing Your Leases with Landlords and Tenants