Roof damage to a commercial property can be tricky to navigate. These instances not only disrupt the exterior of the property but can cause further destruction to the interior as well. However, when a property is leased, it is not always apparent whether the landlord or tenant is responsible for making the repairs. Having an understanding of who is responsible for roof repairs under a commercial lease can ensure the proper party is well aware of their contractually obligated duties.

Commercial Lease Roof Repairs

Commercial property will inevitably experience some type of damage during its time in operation. Natural disasters, severe weather, and even fallen trees can quickly become a cause for concern when it comes to the roof of the leased property. Roof damage, in particular, can be particularly frustrating to deal with due to the havoc it can wreak on the interior of a property as well. 

Landlords have an immense amount of responsibility when owning and maintaining commercial property. However, in certain situations, some of the repair duties may fall on the tenant to ensure the property remains in good working condition throughout the lease term.

Landlord and Tenant Repair Responsibilities

 

In many commercial leases, a maintenance and repair clause will delineate the duties of care among the landlord and tenant as well as who is responsible for what with regard to the rented space. This clause is incredibly important for landlords to include to ensure their investment is protected should the property be damaged during the lease term. 

Generally, the tenant is responsible for the repair of items that could wear down or break with regular use and/or any nonstructural elements of the space. For instance, if the flooring or wallpaper begins to deteriorate, it’s the responsibility of the tenant to replace them with a product of the same or similar quality. Certain lighting issues and broken fixtures in bathrooms or kitchen areas are also the tenant’s responsibility to repair.

When it comes to the roof and other major elements of the property, however, it is often the landlord’s responsibility for the repairs. The reasoning behind this is that in most cases landlords do not want their tenants making decisions involving the property’s walls, roof, and other major structural systems. The landlord is also usually responsible for the electrical, heating, and ventilation systems, as these items, directly impact compliance with specific building, fire, and safety codes, which is the owner’s obligation.  

While these responsibilities may seem cut and dry, it’s essential the landlord clearly defines them within the lease. Defining these responsibilities will make it easier for the tenant to understand and abide by their obligations during the lease term.

Roof Damage and Commercial Property Insurance 

Despite roof repair responsibilities being outlined within a commercial lease, landlords must also ensure they have the proper insurance in place to protect their property. Insurance coverage can be incredibly specific depending on the needs of the landlord and the location of the property. Some of the policies a landlord should obtain to protect the roof of their commercial property include:

Commercial Property Insurance 

Commercial property insurance specifically covers damage to the premises of the rental property as well as items located within it, such as equipment, furniture, supplies, and fixtures. This is particularly important to have on hand should roof damage occurs, as it provides protection for items damaged within the interior of the structure as well as the roof itself.

Commercial Liability Insurance

A landlord must also obtain commercial liability insurance to protect against potential accidents on their property and/or a specific occurrence that causes damage or loss to the building owner’s property or products. This is particularly true when it comes to roof repair. For instance, accidents involving a roofing contractor’s crane tipping over onto the property can be protected with commercial liability insurance.

Often, these policies are also utilized to protect a landlord in the event they are sued or threatened with a liability claim from a third party for bodily injury. For example, if a roofing contractor is injured while repairing a damaged commercial roof and the business is found to be at fault, liability insurance could be used to help cover the loss.

Insurance Coverage Attorneys 

For commercial landlords, it is of utmost importance to ensure their commercial property is protected from any type of damage that may occur to their investment. Unfortunately, regardless of whether a landlord has the proper coverage in place, insurance companies may choose to take advantage of them.

Insurance companies often use bad faith tactics on valid policyholder claims for property damage to turn a profit for themselves. If you are a commercial property owner of rental space and have filed a property damage claim only to have it be wrongfully delayed, underpaid, or denied, the insurance coverage attorneys at Raizner Slania can help. Contact our office today for more information on how we can best assist with your claim.

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