Article written by Bimal Kotecha, Solicitor, Litigation department
When the UK was hit by Storm Arwen recently, many businesses suffered damage and loss. However, if a rented business premises has been damaged, who is responsible for making repairs? What if a premises is no longer fit for use? In this article, we look at storm damage and the impact on commercial tenancies.
My business premises was damaged during a storm, what can I do?
Where your business premises are damaged during a storm, this will generally be covered by the landlord’s buildings insurance. However, it is crucial to note that if the property has not been well maintained and damage has occurred over time, the insurer may not be willing to pay out. It is a tenant’s responsibility to inform the landlord of any necessary repairs as soon as they arise to mitigate the possibility of severe damage.
My equipment and stock were damaged during a storm, what can I do?
If your equipment or stock is damaged during a storm, or because of damage caused during a storm, this is generally covered by your contents insurance. Generally, any additional fixtures or fittings that you have installed and paid for are your responsibility to repair, replace and insure.
My business cannot operate until storm damage repairs are made, what can I do?
Storm damage can have a huge impact on your business, and you may be unable to operate until repairs are made. You may have a business interruption clause in your insurance policy that will cover these circumstances. However, if you are in dispute with your landlord about making these repairs and you do not have such a policy in place, every day is costing you money. Several options are available to you if your landlord will not make the repairs as set out below.
My landlord is refusing to make repairs following a storm, what can I do?
Commercial leases and repairs obligations are a complex area of the law and a source of many legal disputes. You should seek legal advice on your specific situation from a specialist solicitor who will advise you on the best course of action for your situation.
You can make the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from any rent due to the landlord. You must not take this course of action without legal advice.
It is possible to get a declaration from the Court setting out what action the landlord must take or allowing the tenant to take the self-help action outlined above.
Where the landlord’s delay is costing your business money, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation, known as damages, against them.