Commercial building owners are likely to find that, to attract
tenants, they may need to strengthen earlier and to a higher
standard than the requirements recently announced by government,
according to Karen Overend, a commercial property law specialist
with Duncan Cotterill
Under the policy, respective Councils will have five years to
assess earthquake prone buildings and then the owners will have 15
years to strengthen those identified.
"In many respects, the Christchurch commercial property
market is ahead of the Government's move," Overend
"Building owners and tenants should also be aware that
these requirements are merely a minimum standard. Health and safety
obligations are separate from the Building Act regulations, and are
likely to pose a higher standard on owners and occupants of
buildings, especially in relation to high risk falling
She said that while the register to be published by the Ministry
of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) would be helpful,
prospective buyers and tenants of buildings should always make
their own investigations in any case, and not merely rely on the
"Landlords and tenants should ensure that their leases deal
with the strengthening requirements. Many existing leases will not
mention earthquake strengthening works at all. They often do not
deal with the situation of what will occur under the lease when the
works need to be done or the building demolished," Overend
"Recent editions of the industry standard form leases are
starting to go some way to address these issues, but we recommend
that landlords and tenants do not just rely on standard forms, but
carefully consider and get advice on what should be included in
their lease documents, given the circumstances of the relevant
building and the lease."
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