An owner of leased premises has a legal obligation to ensure
that the property leased out by them is safe.
The primary duty of the Landlord in these circumstances will
be normally limited to:
defects that existed at the time the tenancy commenced
or was renewed.
defects of which the Landlord knew or ought to have known
that arose during the term of the tenancy.
In the High Court decision of Northern Sandblasting v
Harris, the Court held that the Landlord in the particular case
was under a general duty of care to its Tenant to provide safe
premises at the commencement of the tenancy.
The Tenant had requested the Landlord to attend to the
repair of some faulty electrical wiring at the premises.
The work was undertaken by an electrical contractor
engaged by the Landlord in a negligent manner.
As a result the Tenant suffered loss and damage for which
the Court found that the Landlord was liable.
Landlords of rental properties which contain asbestos or
other hazardous building materials are required under the
Victorian Building Regulations to arrange for an asbestos audit
to be undertaken and to comply with the provisions of the audit
report once completed.
If a Landlord is unsure as to whether or not there may be
any asbestos in the building owned by it, it will be the
Landlord's responsibility to check this.
In order to protect themselves, Landlords should at the
commencement of each tenancy or a lease renewal, undertake an
inspection to ensure that the premises are in a safe
Any repair or maintenance obligations which may be the
responsibility of a Tenant should be identified and a request
made for the Tenant to attend to these with a follow
up inspection to confirm that they have been appropriately
If a lease term is for more than three years, an inspection
should be undertaken mid term to identify any relevant matters
Any works that are to be undertaken by a Landlord must be
done in a competent and professional manner.
If a commercial property is managed on behalf of the
Landlord, it is important that the Managing Agent as part of
its obligation assume the responsibility for inspections and to
notify Landlords of any repairs which are their Landlord
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.
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