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How can commercial property owners be compliant?

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There are a whole host of statutory requirements which apply to commercial properties and frequently these are overlooked by property owners, until they come to sell, let or refinance their property.

It is prudent for any commercial property owner to regularly review their property portfolio to check statutory compliance. Not only will this give peace of mind, potentially prevent enforcement action and other undesirable consequences for non-compliance; but having the relevant documentation in place could save a considerable amount of time and cost on any future dealings with the property.

The below list provides a brief overview of some of the important matters to consider.

  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – post April 2018, an EPC is required for the marketing of most commercial properties for sale or letting. There are also further regulations in place stipulating what the minimum energy efficiency of a property must be on a sale or letting if the property has a rating, and works will be required to improve properties which are sub-standard. It is advisable to speak to a building surveyor specialising in this area to ascertain the relevant requirements before selling or letting your property and prior to commissioning an EPC or allowing any other party to do so. 

  • Asbestos Survey and Management Plan – owners or occupiers of commercial property are required to keep a written record of the presence of any asbestos within the property, its location, condition and a plan for management. If your property was built prior to 2000 you should ensure compliance with the relevant regulations and if you propose to carry out any refurbishment works, a refurbishment survey should be carried out prior to any works commencing.

  • Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) – owners or occupiers of commercial property are required to carry out a FRA and ensure compliance with the relevant standards. The FRA will be specific to each occupier, however, if there are any communal areas in a multi let building it will remain the owner’s responsibility to carry out a FRA for those areas.

  • Commercial gas safety certificate, electrical installation/testing certificates and other service records – not only are there specific statutory requirements regarding such documentation, but health and safety issues may arise if systems are not maintained to the required standards and your buildings insurance for the property may even be invalidated if the appropriate documentation isn’t held.

  • Planning Permission – you should consider how the current use of the property is authorised from a planning perspective, and how its construction and any past (or proposed) alterations are authorised. If there are express planning consents relating to the property you should check that any relevant conditions have been discharged and/or complied with and formal evidence of discharge is available. If there are no express planning consents, then the works/use of the property may be authorised by long use. If the property is listed or in a conservation area further specific consents may be required.

  • Building Regulations Approval – Building Regulations apply to the construction of new buildings, extensions, conversions and certain alterations to an existing property. If the Building Regulations apply, then a completion certificate should also be held/obtained following completion of the relevant works.

A well drafted commercial lease will, where possible, pass on the responsibility for statutory compliance to the tenant and so it is always worth checking the terms of any occupational leases and, where relevant, requesting evidence of compliance from the tenant.

Give Sophie Read a call on 02476 997718 to discuss your commercial property needs.

Author: Sophie Read

27 November 2020