Real Estate Tip of the Week: Have your say on the Service Charge Code
RICS is due to publish the 4th edition of the code of practice for the management of service charges in commercial property (the "New Code") on 1 April 2018…
Published 11 February 2019
There is a perception that owners and occupiers should not clear ice and snow from roads and footpaths outside their premises for fear of being sued. This is not the case and positive action is invariably required in respect of areas open to visitors or members of the public.
The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 imposes a common duty of care obligation on owners and occupiers to take such steps as are reasonable to ensure visitors will be reasonably safe when using the premises. If the owner or occupier fails to take any action, it could be seen to have failed in this duty of care and liability may result.
All owners or occupiers of commercial premises should therefore put in place a procedure for monitoring and responding to extreme weather conditions. A plan should be prepared to prioritise the areas to be cleared, making the most efficient use of the available resources and addressing the most immediate concerns. If an area cannot be made reasonably safe, access should be prevented or curtailed.
Where a road or footpath is publicly maintained, no legal obligation should attach to the commercial owner or occupier. However, it may make good commercial sense to clear such areas, provided they are cleared in a way which does not render them more hazardous.