Best Practices for Commercial Space Property Maintenance 

Cape Town commercial space property maintenance is essential to preserve the appearance of any building ensuring an environment that’s a pleasure to work in – not to mention the effect it has on client appeal and the return on investment if it’s your property.

Building owners and tenants may not be involved in property maintenance on a hands-on basis, but understanding the process is essential for landlords and tenants alike.

By being proactive and well-informed about the rights and responsibilities of commercial maintenance, issues can be spotted, reported, and resolved before they evolve into large-scale damage and disputes between tenants and landlords.

In this article, we run down the maintenance checklist that every good building manager should have in mind and focus on some of the key areas of a commercial building that require regular upkeep.

Property maintenance is a joint effort

It goes without saying that the ultimate responsibility for maintaining a building lies with the owner – but that doesn’t mean that tenants should take a totally hands off approach or ignore their liability.

A typical commercial building may have one owner, one property manager, and hundreds of building users. This means that tenants are far more likely to notice maintenance issues (especially those that arise inside their office units) and the sooner these are reported to building management, the better.

By taking a proactive approach to building management and reporting, tenants can ensure that maintenance issues are speedily resolved. In this way, office units remain functional, free of leaks, dirt and other inconveniences. Accordingly, as a tenant or owner you have peace of mind that your office will always make an excellent impression on clients and gives workers a modern, clean space for maximum productivity.

Here are some common maintenance issues that tenants should be aware of and best practice guidelines.

HVAC maintenance

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning are essential building services that help regulate the temperature and air quality of your office.

When the HVAC is working perfectly, you almost don’t notice that it’s there, but if your ventilation system starts pumping dirty air into your workspace or if your aircon stops working in the middle of summer, you’ll know that something is wrong straight away.

If you notice any of the following irregularities in your building air quality, contact your building manager without delay.

  • An office or work area that feels significantly hotter or colder than the temperature displayed on the aircon control panel.
  • Loud noises being emitted from the aircon vents – especially if it’s usually quiet and unnoticeable.
  • Complaints about allergies and dust from your team members.
  • Bad smells coming through the ventilation system, especially if a chemical smell is being emitted.

If building users experience symptoms that resemble a cold, but a visit to the doctor finds that nothing is wrong with them, allergies could be to blame and it may be time to change the aircon filters or invest in an anti-allergenic air quality system for the building.

Cracks and leaks

Cracks in the wall may seem like a normal part of building maintenance but the longer they stay unfixed the more likely long-term structural damage becomes.

  • Insects can make a home in cracked walls, creating a potential infestation of the building that could cost tenants hours of productive time as exterminators have to treat every office to eliminate the unwanted pests.
  • Cracks can indicate a structural defect in the building which will need to be addressed by the owner, possibly with the help of a construction engineer and professional builder.

The sooner you let your Cape Town commercial space agent know about the presence of cracks the better off the condition of the entire building will be for all users

Cracked walls create a bad first impression for clients and subconsciously weigh on the minds of employees. A beautiful premises that looks like it could be in a magazine is the ideal place to be productive and creative and gives first time clients confidence in the business as a trusted partner and supplier.

  • Leaks are often far more serious than cracks because they can indicate a serious immediate problem like a burst water pipe and not just a long-term issue like shifting foundations.
  • If you notice wet patches on your office ceiling or walls or unexplained puddles of water on floors, and passageways, there’s no time to lose in reporting the issue to building maintenance.

A burst pipe or geyser could cause a wide scale problem in the building, and even result in ceiling collapses and damage to expensive office equipment. In the aftermath of these types of events, you may be forced to find alternative business premises for up to several weeks while the damage is repaired

Wear and tear

The types of damage outlined in the previous sections fall into the “urgent” category because they threaten the safety and functionality of the building – but wear and tear is equally important to report to your agent.

Unlike structural damage and damage due to negligence, wear and tear is the natural result of the building getting older and it’s important to do regular maintenance inspections. Some examples include:

  • Scuff marks on floors and skirting boards
  • Paint chipping off the edges of door frames and windowpanes, especially on the exterior of an older building
  • Malfunctions in the aircon or building communication system, including buttons that wear out or sensors that no longer work
  • Fading of paint on walls and other surfaces, or bleaching of wood finishes that are exposed to sunlight
  • Damage to lighting and signage
  • Exposed electrical systems or circuit breakers

Unlike deliberate or accidental damage which causes a part of the building interior to break immediately, wear and tear can take years or even decades to happen.

While it may not be immediately apparent, it’s important to take note of gradual building decay and report it to your agent or building manager.

Who’s liable for wear and tear repairs?

Depending on your lease agreement, you may not be liable for the costs of repairing normal wear and tear which may or may not include the servicing of any lifts, escalators and fire extinguishers in the building.

Ensuring that everyone’s on the same page, and that the building owner is aware of the wear and tear as it happens – and not simply when your lease expires – is essential.

Damage caused by tenants

The final type of damage we need to discuss is often a point of contention between tenants and landlords – but it can be avoided with meticulous record keeping and proactive communication.

From time to time, the actions of your employees may result in damage to the building that could have been avoided.

In terms of most lease agreements, you may be liable for the cost of repairing this damage –  and it’s essential to report it as soon as possible so that the owner can have it repaired before it escalates.

A cracked or broken window may seem like a small thing, but if it allows water to enter the building and damage the walls or fittings, you may end up being liable for not only the cost of repairing the window, but also the subsequent damage that occurred.

Damage to common facilities, especially doors that are meant to be locked to enhance building security are especially urgent. In the instance of a break-in for example, fellow tenants may try to hold your business responsible if it is found that the damage caused by your team is alleged to have made it possible.

Cutting costs with regular maintenance checks and open communication

In general, whether the maintenance issue is structural, an unexpected event, like a leak, wear and tear, or an accident caused by building users, the best strategy is preventative maintenance and open channels of communication between landlord and tenant.

Effective and user-friendly communication channels make it easier to report issues without delay so that the damage can be repaired before it balloons into a larger and more expensive problem.

If you’re not happy with the maintenance in your current Cape Town office, you can always approach your landlord and request that repairs be made. If you’re unable to reach an agreement, it may be time to seek out new commercial premises in the Mother City.

Find your perfect office space with us

The Commercial Space team has the expertise and decades of experience that it takes to match business owners with the ideal premises to suit their needs, and we never simply walk away after concluding a lease.

If you’re looking for a new office space in the Cape Peninsula, contact us today to view our portfolio of modern, beautifully maintained office and light industrial buildings. Our team of commercial property specialists are well-versed in every aspect of property management and the best practices for commercial property maintenance. With Commercial Space you can rest assured that you and your property or office are in the best hands.