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How to: Landlords and occupational safety and health (OSH)

Landlords and the workplace safety legislation

As a landlord you have some duties in relation to occupational safety and health under the HEALTH AND SAFETY IN EMPLOYMENT ACT 1992.

As its title says, the Act is concerned with workplace health and safety, its objective being to reduce workplace injuries and to place liability for accidents on the people responsible, including the employer. Provided you as a landlord do not employ your tenants or engage anyone else to carry out any task for you – for example, repairing a leaking roof – then normally the only duties under the Act that may apply to you are those imposed by section 16 on people who "control" a place of work.

Duties of landlords as people who "control" a place of work

Under section 16, a person who controls a workplace has a duty to take all practicable steps to ensure that no hazard in or arising in the workplace harms people who are in the vicinity or who are lawfully at work in the place as your employees or contractors.

A landlord, as an "owner", is included in the Act's definition of a person who "controls" a place of work. Therefore a landlord leasing property to an employer may be required under section 16 to take steps to prevent any harm occurring to the employer's employees or customers.

Landlords can contact the Labour Department for checklists to ensure that their premises are safe.

No contracting out of the Act

As a landlord you are not permitted to contract out of the Act – that is, you cannot include a term in the lease that your duties under the Act will not apply.

Cautionary notes
  • Circumstances will be different for individual landlords, and therefore to minimise the risk of prosecution it is strongly recommended that you take legal advice on the practical steps you should take in your particular case to comply with your duties under the Act.
  • The lease should include a term that the tenants must observe and comply with the provisions of the Act.

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