As coronavirus continues to dominate the headlines, we explore its effect on commercial properties such as offices, both for tenants and landlords, and answer your most frequently asked questions.

Is additional cleaning or maintenance of the property included under my lease?

Cleaning and maintenance obligations on landlords are common. However, under most leases, there won’t be an obligation to provide any additional cleaning or maintenance. Check your lease to be sure.

If additional cleaning or maintenance of the property is carried out, can this be included within the service charge payment under the lease?

Landlords may be able to claim for the expenses incurred in taking extra care of the property. This would be done by charging for the maintenance/cleaning through the service charge, which is recovered from the tenants.

Whether this would be recovered would depend on the wording of a service charge clause. Often, additional services are at the discretion of the landlord. The extent to which they are recoverable depends on whether those costs are reasonable and properly incurred in accordance with good estate management principles.

Are there any health and safety obligations that the coronavirus affects?

The relevant law in this area is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). Under these regulations, landlords could have obligations such as completing risk assessments and initiating control measures.

You should check your lease to see who is responsible for the disposal of waste, which is likely to have been drafted with non-hazardous waste in mind. If someone at the property is diagnosed with the coronavirus, you may have to consider how to dispose of items they have come into contact with, particularly tissues.

  • Madeleine Wakeley is a partner at award-winning law firm VWV, which has offices in Clarendon Road, Watford