December 16

Who Is Responsible for Plumbing in a Commercial Lease?

Signing a commercial lease is a long-term commitment for any business. With most leases lasting upwards of 3 to 5 years, it’s important to know which repairs and maintenance you’re liable for. The wear and tear on a commercial property can be a major expense. Especially if you’re involved in a trade or have lots of customers coming through your doors, general maintenance requirements can add up quickly. Most of the time it’s clear who is responsible for plumbing in a commercial lease, but it’s not always a straightforward decision. In this article we’ll discuss how repair and maintenance expenses are divided to see whether you’re liable for plumbing costs during your commercial lease.

Who Is Responsible for Plumbing in a Commercial Lease?

In most commercial leases, the tenant is responsible for the cost of any plumbing maintenance or fit outs. This is generally considered part of the “outgoing” expenses of a commercial lease. The outgoings you pay as a tenant usually cover costs like management fees, repairs, maintenance, council rates and taxes. Depending on the size of the property, outgoings can be a major expense, so make sure you know when you are or aren’t responsible for repairs!

Types of Commercial Plumbing Repairs

Australia doesn’t have any laws that cover plumbing repairs on a commercial property. Instead, the agreement you sign will include details about which party is responsible for any expenses that come up during the lease. Most lease agreements divide those expenses into two categories:

  1. General Repairs. The tenant is usually responsible for the cost of any general repairs as part of their outgoings. “General repairs” covers most types of wear and tear that you’re likely to encounter on a daily basis. Things like leaky taps, blocked drains and commercial equipment all fall under this category. If you have a plumbing emergency that could cause serious damage to the property (like a burst pipe), the tenant is also responsible for arranging to have the issue fixed as soon as possible.
  2. Structural Repairs. Your landlord will be expected to pay for any structural repairs to the property. “Structural repairs” are anything that relates to the walls, roofing and foundations of the property. That means things like roof and gutter plumbing and major problems with the main water supply are likely to be the landlord’s responsibility. In some cases, extensive plumbing repairs or maintenance can fall into this category, especially if it’s affecting onsite safety.

    Make sure you read your contract carefully before signing! It’s common for landlords to include a clause that makes structural repairs your responsibility during the lease period, which can significantly increase your ongoing costs.

Who Should Pay for Commercial Plumbing?

Deciding who pays for commercial plumbing expenses can be tricky. While your lease will provide details about structural repairs and general maintenance, plumbing can be a bit of a grey area. On the one hand, it’s a major part of the building, and previous court rulings have often required the landlord to pay for major plumbing repairs – especially if there is a safety hazard. On the other hand, tenants are often responsible for things like clearing drains, especially if they’re dealing with trade or industrial waste. Failing to those sorts of obligations can mean that you’ll end up paying for structural repairs that would normally be the landlord’s responsibility.
You should always check your lease agreement if you’re unsure. Generally speaking, you’ll be required to pay for maintenance and any plumbing damage you cause, whether it’s structural or not. When in doubt it’s better to pay for repairs and sort out who is responsible later. Broken plumbing can cause major damage to a property’s foundations. As the tenant, you might find yourself liable for those expenses if you knew there was an issue but didn’t act fast enough to address the problem.

Looking for Expert Commercial Plumbers? Contact S&J Plumbing!

Your business relies on its plumbing each and every day. Whether it’s the taps and drains, commercial equipment or major underground plumbing, it’s important to repair issues as soon as possible. For any help you need with your commercial plumbing, get in touch with S&J Plumbing and Gasfitting! The S&J team is made up of experienced plumbers and gasfitters. We look after everything from general plumbing maintenance to commercial fit outs, plumbing repairs, equipment installation and more. Whatever you need, our skilled team has the expertise, spare parts and equipment they need to tackle commercial plumbing problems on your property!


Contact us today if you’d like to make a booking, or call us directly if you need our emergency plumbing services.


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