Who keeps your office space up & running?
If you rent office space, you probably recognize this: the climate system doesn’t work, the elevator is out of order, or other inconveniences that sometimes disrupt daily operations. But who is actually responsible for fixing all these defects?
The Role of the Landlord
When renting office space, it’s important to understand the responsibilities you have as a tenant and the tasks carried out by the landlord. In most cases, the lease is based on the model of the Real Estate Council (ROZ). This model specifies who is responsible for what. For example, major maintenance of installations and maintaining the building are the landlord’s responsibility. However, daily maintenance and renewal of small parts in the office space are the tenant’s responsibility. This often leads to discussions. What exactly constitutes daily maintenance and ‘small parts’ can be a vague concept. Unfortunately, the standard ROZ lease offers little guidance in this area. We wrote a blog about this earlier, which you can read here.
It is therefore important to make agreements in advance about who takes responsibility for which maintenance. In general, you can follow the ROZ model, but some matters need to be additionally specified. There are also some ‘mistakes’ in the standard provisions, such as the tenant being held responsible for replacing the external glazing of the office space. That really belongs to the landlord’s responsibilities. Then there’s the clause about renewing small parts. We advise agreeing with the landlord on what this entails and to simply include a maximum cost per part, for example, €200 per item.
Defects in the Office Space
As a starting point, you can expect the office space to be free of defects at the beginning of the lease. After all, you are renting an office with a functioning heating system and working elevator. Often defects are noticed in time and remedied by the landlord, but sometimes it can drag on for months (or even years). During this time, you cannot optimally use your office. Unfortunately, the ROZ model only specifies when the landlord should start fixing a defect, not when it should be resolved. And if it takes a long time, you have few means to enforce it. Again, additional agreements are necessary.
It should come as no surprise, but the landlord is not responsible for items that are not part of the leased property. For example, if you have taken over a kitchen with a dishwasher from a previous tenant or have installed an air conditioning unit in the server room yourself, you are also responsible for their maintenance and replacement.
The Importance of Prompt Reporting
It is crucial to report any problems, defective equipment, or damage immediately to the appropriate party. By reporting problems promptly, they can be resolved quickly, and further damage can be prevented. Be proactive and contact the landlord to report the malfunction or defect in writing. The sooner you report the problem, the faster action can be taken. It can take a long time before the problem is resolved, which we have written about before. Minimize your risk as a tenant by following these tips:
- Ensure a Proper Handover Report
Avoid surprises by preparing a detailed handover report at the beginning of the rental period. This report clearly states which items are part of the leased property and who is responsible for maintenance and possible renewals. This report serves as an important reference point for future maintenance obligations.
- Have a ‘Zero Service’ Performed
If you plan to carry out daily maintenance and repair of installations yourself, it is wise to have a thorough inspection carried out by the landlord prior to the lease agreement. This helps determine the current state of the installations and prevents later discussions about responsibilities.
- Agree on Costs
It’s important to make clear agreements with the landlord about the maximum costs for ‘renewal of small parts.’ These costs are the tenant’s responsibility. On the other hand, the landlord is responsible for the costs of ‘replacement of parts.’ Also, ensure that you do not pay extra for maintenance if the landlord fails to replace the installation. Old installations can cause more frequent malfunctions and higher maintenance costs.
- Establish Liability Ensure that the lease agreement states that you cannot be held liable for problems occurring in installations carried out by a certified and landlord-approved installer. This protects you against unexpected liabilities in case of technical complications.
More Information? At Solved, we understand the challenges tenants can face. Therefore, we are ready to help you minimize risks and find suitable solutions. Feel free to contact us for more information and advice.