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If you want to lease commercial premises for your business, it is essential to know your rights and obligations as a tenant on that property. It is, however, also important to understand your commercial landlord’s responsibilities. This includes their duties both to:

  • you; and 
  • your workers, if you have any.

Your lease document is the first place to look to find these out. A landlord’s responsibilities can vary according to the lease and what you both negotiated when you signed the contract. Landlords also have more general duties under the law. Standard lease agreements, such as those drawn up by the Auckland District Law Society (ADLS), will cover these responsibilities. This article will cover what those responsibilities are so that you are aware of what your landlord is obligated to do under the law.

Maintenance and Repairs 

One of your commercial landlord’s responsibilities includes maintaining the premises at an appropriate level and to make sure the building is weatherproof. For example, they have to make sure that the roof is in good repair. However, this does not extend to minor breakages within the area that you are leasing and in possession of.

In your lease agreement, there should be a clear description of the premises you are leasing out. This is important for establishing which areas you have control over.

For example, if you are leasing an office space as part of a larger building complex, the lease should outline where the perimeter of your office space ends and where the rest of the building begins. Your landlord has a responsibility to repair the elevator going up to your office space if it breaks. But, they do not have a responsibility to replace the carpet of your office if it is damaged.

Generally, as the tenant, if damage occurs during the lease on the part of the property you are leasing it is your job to fix it.

Building Codes

Your commercial landlord’s responsibilities also include complying with the Building Act and the Building Code. This usually entails making sure that any construction work that happens on the premises is up to code and it has the proper permits. If your lease agreement requires it, your landlord may have to supply the Local Authority with a Warrant of Fitness for the building.

Health and Safety

As the owner of commercial property, a commercial landlord qualifies as a PCBU – a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking. Under the law, a PCBU has particular health and safety obligations to their workers and other workers influenced by their business. 

If you, as the tenant, are a business owner as well then you are likely a PCBU too. It is, therefore, a good idea to work together with your landlord to make sure you are meeting your duties under the relevant health and safety regulations. This generally means ensuring the health and safety of workers on the premises, as far as what is reasonably practicable. This includes making sure the property is safe and does not pose risks to those using it.


Your landlord has to insure the property, which you may contribute to as part of your outgoings as the tenant. This may be tailored to the location of the premises itself. For example, if the property is in an earthquake-prone area, you would expect insurance that covers earthquakes. However, your landlord cannot claim losses from you if their insurance coverage does not include the risk that caused the loss.

Quiet Enjoyment

A key part of the landlord-tenant relationship is the landlord’s obligation to allow the tenant to occupy the property without interruption. This means that they have to notify you if they are coming to the premises, and cannot arbitrarily interrupt the course of your business.

Assignment of Lease

Some lease agreements may forbid you from assigning your lease to another tenant, so it is important to check the terms of the contract that you signed. If there is no such clause and you wish to assign the lease to someone else, your landlord needs to act reasonably when considering the assignment. They cannot unreasonably withhold their consent.

Note that this does not stop them from preventing you from assigning your lease to someone else, but it means that they cannot do it arbitrarily.

Key Takeaways

Commercial landlords have specific duties they need to uphold as owners of the property that you are leasing. Generally, your commercial landlord’s responsibilities cover:

  • proper maintenance and repair;
  • complying with relevant building codes and health and safety regulations;
  • insuring the property;
  • not interfering with your enjoyment of the property; and
  • reasonably considering a lease assignment.

These are general duties and your lease agreement may have more specific ones that your landlord has to follow. If you would like more information or help with your commercial landlord’s responsibilities, contact LegalVision’s property lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

What is a commercial lease?

A commercial lease is when you rent a property from someone else for commercial purposes. It is different from a residential lease. Common commercial leases include leasing an office space, leasing storage for your business, or leasing a store.

What is a commercial landlord?

A commercial landlord is the person who owns the property that you are leasing. You will pay them regular rent payments during your lease.

What are your commercial landlord’s responsibilities?

Your commercial landlord’s responsibilities will vary depending on what the terms of your lease agreement are, but they do have a few general duties. These include proper maintenance and repair of the property, not interfering with your quiet enjoyment of the property, and complying health and safety regulations.

What can you negotiate on a commercial lease?

A commercial lease is more flexible than a residential lease, so you have more room to negotiate. It is a good idea to get good legal advice so that you make sure your position is properly represented and protected.

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