New Zealand: Commercial landlords beware – know your obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act!

Last Updated: 4 June 2017
Article by Mike Parker


The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act) came into full force on 4 April this year. The Act creates new classes of duty holder, new duties and increased penalties for non-compliance. Commercial property landlords will now, in most cases, be duty holders, with obligations under the Act. So too directors and officers of the landlord (where the landlord is not an individual). In this article we'll consider those obligations and how they may be satisfied.

PCBUs and Landlords duties under the Act
The Act introduces the concept of a person conducting a business or undertaking, or "PCBU". It imposes duties on all PCBUs to ensure the health and safety of workers and other people who have contact with their business or undertaking. Under the Act, commercial property landlords will be regarded as PCBUs, subject to some exceptions. Essentially, this means that landlords now have a primary duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and other people affected by work on their property.

Further duties may apply to landlords, including when they manage or control a workplace, manage or control fixtures, fittings and plant, or supply plant or structures. For instance, while tenants control their workspaces, landlords may control common areas such as carparks, stairwells, entrances and exits, plant rooms, etc. Landlords will have to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that entries and exits, common areas, landlords fixtures, fittings, plant and structures do not pose health and safety risks. The duty extends to tenants, tenant's workers, contractors engaged by the landlord to do work at the property, and other persons working at the property.

What is reasonably practicable?
What is considered "reasonably practicable" will depend on the circumstances. Factors to be taken into account include:

  • The likelihood of the risk or hazard occurring;
  • The degree of harm that might result from the risk or hazard;
  • What is known, or would be reasonably expected to be known, about a risk or hazard;
  • How to eliminate or minimise the risk, and the costs of doing so.

Duty to consult, cooperate and coordinate with other PCBUs
More than one PCBU may be carrying out work at the same workplace. In such cases the Act requires all the duty holders to consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with each other. Accordingly, landlords will need to work together with tenants and other duty holders to ensure that they are meeting their duties under the Act. For example, if a landlord wishes to carry out work to a building, the landlord, tenant and the contractor will have duties to the tenant's workers. All three PCBUs will need to consult to ensure they meet their individual duties.

Duties cannot be transferred to other PCBUs
Duties are not transferable. Consequently, duty holders cannot avoid responsibility by saying that they expected someone else to carry out the duty. For example, where a landlord's property manager arranges for a plumber to carry out work to shared toilet facilities that are used by a number of tenants, the plumber, landlord, property manager and the tenants are all likely to be PCBUs with overlapping duties.

Directors and Officers of Landlord PCBUs are caught too
The Act also imposes a duty of care on officers of PCBUs. "Officers" include:

  • directors, where the PCBU is a company;
  • partners, where the PCBU is a partnership, other than a limited partnership;
  • general partners, where the PCBU is a limited partnership;
  • persons occupying a position that is comparable to that of a director in any body corporate other those listed above;
  • persons occupying a position that allows them to exercise significant influence over the management of the business or undertaking (for example, a chief executive).

The duty requires officers to exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with any duty under the Act. "Due diligence" requires an officer to:

  • Acquire and keep up to date knowledge of health and safety matters;
  • Gain an understanding of the risks and hazards associated with the conduct of the business;
  • Ensure the PCBU has, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety;
  • Ensure the PCBU has appropriate resources and processes for responding to information regarding incidents, hazards and risks in a timely way; and
  • Ensuring the PCBU has, and implements, processes for complying with the duties under the legislation.
  • The duty imposes a positive obligation on officers to be proactive, and to exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonable officer would exercise.

In practice this could include obtaining reports from the PCBU landlord on health and safety risks, covering how known risks are being eliminated or minimised and monitored, and ensuring that sufficient resource is available to do so.

How can landlords ensure they are complying with the Act?
The Act is still relatively new. Many commercial landlords will not have turned their mind to how to address their duties under it. The Property Council of New Zealand is working with Work Safe New Zealand to develop a model health and safety policy for commercial property owners to provide some guidance. However, it is unclear when this will be available. In the meantime, landlords and officers should consider:

  • Checking whether tenants have a comprehensive health and safety policy in place, and getting a copy of it;
  • Finding out who the tenants health and safety representative is, and have them report to you on health and safety matters;
  • Engaging a specialist health and safety agency to do a practical assessment of the risks and help prepare a health and safety policy;
  • If hazards or risks exist that are not covered by the tenant's health and safety policy, ensure these are dealt with either by way of addition to the tenant's health and safety policy, or in your own health and safety document which is then displayed at the property;
  • Having the property, including the building infrastructure, fixtures and fittings, plant and other structures regularly monitored for the existence of health and safety risks;
  • Consulting with tenants to ensure risks or hazards in common areas such as shared toilet and kitchens, carparks, foyers, lifts and stairwells are identified and eliminated, or minimised if they cannot be eliminated;
  • Providing information and training to protect people from specific risks, if appropriate;
  • Including clauses in leases that specifically acknowledge and address the parties' health and safety obligations;
  • In the case of officers, obtaining reports from the PCBU on how health and safety risks are being managed and monitored, and ensure that sufficient resource is available to the PCBU landlord to do so.

Avoid the penalties
The penalties for not complying with the Act are significant - up to $600,000 and/or up to 5 years imprisonment for an individual, and up to $3,000,000 for a body corporate! In the wake of workplace disasters such as the Pike River mine disaster and the deaths and injuries that occurred as a result of building failures in the Christchurch earthquakes, there is an increased focus on the health and safety of people coming into contact with commercial buildings. It is important that you consider if the duties under the Act apply to you, and address them.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions