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RLA 240663

The objective of this article is to assist in clarifying responsibilities when it comes to fire prevention equipment and to minimize the confusion regarding obligations re the installation and maintenance of this equipment in commercial and industrial premises.

From time to time we are approached by either the landlord or the tenant with questions on this topic, mostly when the premises are in between tenancies. In the other words, when the property is vacant and a new tenant is moving in shortly.

Usually, the answer to this question is quite simple and logical. The starting point is the fact that in order to get building insurance cover, the premises must have essential fire prevention equipment installed that complies with current safety standards, even when the premises is vacant. This means that the landlord is obliged to make sure that the appropriate fire protection equipment is in place and the maintenance tags are current.

This situation will change however when the tenant takes over possession of the property. At that point, it is very important to emphasize that it is the responsibility of the tenant to make sure that their business operation is in line with safety codes, including taking responsibility for the fire protection equipment on site. Sometimes that means that existing equipment is sufficient, but at other times it may require the repositioning of provided equipment to more suitable locations. In some instances the tenant will be required to supply and install additional fire protection equipment.

If that is the case, that tenant will most likely be under obligation to remove said equipment, deemed as improvements and return the premises to pre-tenancy condition (or as close to, under the “make good” clause). This varies from case to case however, depending on use, lease provisions and Landlord preferences.

Most modern leases require that the tenant takes responsibility to service the fire equipment for the duration of the lease.In accordance with the current Australian Standard (AS2444 or AS1851) there are minimum requirements for servicing (in most cases 6 monthly but some occupations may be different) and if these regular services are not carried out, the insurer may refuse a claim if an incident was to occur.

Commercial Property Centre has contacts within both the fire prevention services and the insurance industry so, if you have questions which require further clarification please let us know.

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