Storm damage can massively impact business. Following Storm Arwen and Storm Barra, it is likely that many businesses will suffer some form of damage or loss. Where any damage or loss does occur it is important to know who will be responsible for the repairs.
Deciding who is responsible for the repair will depend on what has been damaged.
Where damage is caused to the property itself, this will usually be covered by buildings insurance and, generally in a full repairing and insuring lease, it is the responsibility of the landlord to insure the property against a list of pre-agreed insured risks (which typically includes storm) and to use the insurance proceeds to repair the damage. Depending on the extent of damage and the terms of the lease, the annual rent (or a fair proportion of it depending on the extent of damage) may be suspended pending reinstatement. However, this does not remove all responsibility from the tenant. It is common to include clauses in leases requiring the tenant to not only look after and maintain the property during their occupation but also to notify the landlord of any issues in the property or the need for repair as soon as they arise. Where a tenant has failed to inform the landlord of any issues with the property and damage has occurred over time, an insurer may not be willing to cover the costs of repairing any damage. If the landlord’s buildings insurance does not cover the damage, in many cases, responsibility for repair will fall to the tenant.
In some circumstances, the extent of the damage may mean that businesses are unable to operate until repairs have been made. Where a business is unable to operate because of damage, a tenant may have business interruption insurance that will cover such circumstances. The lease may also include a rent suspension clause where the property becomes unfit for occupation due to the damage.
Equipment and stock
Usually, any additional fixtures and fittings in the property will have been installed by the tenant. Where any damage is caused to these fixtures and fittings, this will usually be covered by contents insurance. That being said, the responsibility will lie with the tenant to insure, repair or replace anything damaged.
Where a landlord is refusing to make the repairs to the property, there are various options available to the tenant, potentially including making the repairs and recharging the landlord or making an application to the court for specific performance or compensation from the landlord. In any event, a tenant should not take any course of action without first seeking legal advice.