Even though a commercial tenant doesn’t legally own the property they are renting, they still have the obligation to make certain repairs and complete routine maintenance. These duties will be identified in the commercial lease, so commercial tenants must take great care to make sure they read it and fully understand what repairs and maintenance tasks they are responsible for. If they do not, they could find themselves in contract litigation for breach of contract after violating a commercial lease provision.

The exact commercial tenant responsibilities will vary depending on the specific terms of the commercial lease. However, commercial tenants will typically find themselves responsible for the following types of commercial rental property upkeep duties.

Keep the Property Neat and Clean

Commercial tenants, at a very minimum, will have the responsibility of keeping the property they are renting clean and neat. The tenant won’t need to keep the property spotless, but they can’t let trash build up or treat the property in a way where pests start to infest the building.

Make Minor Repairs

There may also the duty to make minor repairs to nonstructural parts of the rented property. For instance, applying some spackle to drywall to fill in nail holes and repairing damaged fixtures will usually be up to the tenant to take care of.

Unless the lease agreement says otherwise, repairs to major parts of the property, or parts which all of the tenants utilize, will be for the landlord to fix. Examples of landlord responsibilities include central heating and cooling, electrical, foundation, roof and common areas (like a lobby).

Leave the Exterior Areas Alone

Most commercial tenants are only responsible for what’s inside the building. Exterior maintenance and repairs, including landscaping, are most often handled by the landlord. This doesn’t mean the landlord pays for it, as the rent payments commercial tenants provide the property owner or landlord almost always include a portion for maintenance and repair tasks the landlord handles.

The Commercial Lease Rules Supreme

Despite the general rules of thumb on tenant responsibilities for maintenance and repairs, what the tenant needs to do will ultimately come down to what the lease says. Depending on the commercial landlord-tenant relationship, the parties may negotiate the responsibilities almost any way they wish. This makes sense, because there are practical considerations that may make it easier and more efficient for a landlord or tenant to handle certain maintenance and repair tasks.

For example, the landlord usually takes care of landscaping, but if the tenant rents an entire building complex and is very particular about how it wants its exterior vegetation to look, it may request that it be allowed to have the responsibility of maintaining the exterior grounds. But in return, the commercial tenant will probably want its rent reduced by a comparable amount to compensate it for its landscaping costs. However, the landlord isn’t likely to volunteer this reduced rent. This is where having a good real estate contract attorney can be helpful to negotiate the best possible commercial lease terms.

For More Information

If you have questions about commercial tenant rights and responsibilities, especially questions that might relate to a lease dispute, a consultation with a Virginia lawyer might be in order. You should consider contacting the Thomas Law Office at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment.

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