On a commercial building, is a landlord responsible to replace a roof top heating system if it needs it?

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On a commercial building, is a landlord responsible to replace a roof top heating system if it needs it?

It will cost $15,000.

Asked on September 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A landlord, whether in residential or commercial space, is responsible for providing space that is "fit for its intended purpose," or habitable. So, for example, the landlord would have to make sure there is heat. But if there is heat, even if it's not working as good or efficiently as it might, the landlord does not need to replace or upgrade the system.

Or if this is a system which heats the roof itself so as to avoid ice/snow build-up, the issue is whether or not the system is not functioning to such a  degree that leaks are  occuring (due to ice/snow build up) which impair tenant habitablity--if that's not happening, the landlord doesn't have to do anything.

So the issue isn't whether or not the rooftop system "needs" to be replaced--it's whether or not anything is happening which is preventing the tenants from using their space free from unreasonable disruption or impairment of habitability. If the space is still fit for its intended purpose, the landlord does not need to do anything--it's when the space is no longer fit for its intended purpose that a landlord must act.


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