Many businesses have suffered damage and loss from storms Arwen and Barra. If leasehold business premises have been damaged, who is responsible for making repairs? What if a property is no longer fit for use? In this article, we look at storm damage and commercial tenancies.
My business premises were damaged during a storm, what can I do?
Most business leases include an obligation on the landlord to insure the property and most landlord insurance policies will cover storm damage. However, if the property has not been well maintained and damage has occurred over time, the insurer may refuse to pay. Tenants should notify the landlord of any necessary repairs as soon as they become known.
My equipment and stock were damaged during a storm, what can I do?
If your equipment or stock is damaged because of a storm, this would usually be covered by your contents insurance. Generally, any fixtures or fittings that you have installed and paid for are your responsibility to repair, replace and insure but you should check the definition of the “Property” or “Premises” in the lease as they may be considered part of the property and could therefore be covered by the landlord’s buildings insurance.
My business cannot operate until storm damage repairs are made, what can I do?
Storm damage can have a huge impact on your business, and you may be unable to operate until repairs are made. You may have a business interruption clause in your insurance policy that will cover these circumstances. You may also have a rent suspension clause in your lease. If you are in dispute with your landlord regarding your respective obligations to repair storm damage or your entitlement to a whole or partial rent suspension, several options are available to you.
My landlord is refusing to make repairs or suspend the rent following a storm, what can I do?
Commercial leases and repairs obligations are a complex area of the law and a source of many legal disputes. If you and your landlord cannot agree, you should seek legal advice on your specific situation from a specialist solicitor.
You should never withhold rent or deduct the cost of repairs from any rent due to the landlord without legal advice.
It is possible to get a declaration from the Court setting out what action the landlord must take or allowing the tenant to carry out the repairs itself and deduct the cost from the rent.
Where the landlord’s delay is costing your business money, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation, known as damages, against them.
Termination of the lease
In the event of major damage, you or your landlord may be able to terminate the lease.