Managing commercial properties can be more than a full-time job. So, ensuring that your safety incidents stay minimally is critical for operational success. There are plenty of regulations, complications, and possible incident scenarios to consider – finding the correct answers and fast can take time and effort. That’s why we put this guide together for you and your organization.
Commercial property safety standards for 2023 are critical to remaining within compliance thereof. To simplify the commercial property management process, you need to implement the right solutions to aid you in maintaining more than just compliance. The right tools will help you have the peace of mind of knowing that your commercial property or properties are safe and compliant.
Use this guide to implement your commercial property safety management program and ensure your properties stay compliant and safe. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- What Is Commercial Property Safety?
- How To Manage Commercial Properties Safely
- Steps For Implementing Commercial Property Safety Protocol
- The Solution For Property Safety Management
What Is Commercial Property Safety?
Property management oversees and administers real estate and equipment. It can include residential properties such as apartments, houses, and condominiums, as well as commercial properties such as office buildings, shopping centers, and warehouses. Property management involves a number of responsibilities, including:
- Marketing and leasing: This includes advertising the property, showing it to prospective tenants, and handling the application and leasing process.
- Maintenance and repair: Property managers are responsible for maintaining the property and ensuring that necessary repairs are promptly made.
- Rent administration: Property managers handle rent collection from tenants and may also prepare and distribute rental agreements or lease contracts.
- Financial management: Property managers are responsible for managing the financial aspects of the property, including budgeting, payroll, and bookkeeping.
- Legal compliance: Property managers must ensure that the property complies with all relevant laws and regulations, including building codes, zoning laws, and health and safety regulations.
Overall, the goal of property management is to maximize the property’s value and ensure that it is well-maintained and attractive to tenants. All the while, you must maintain the property in a manner that provides a safe environment for tenants and their visitors.
We can conclude by summing all of the above into a single package and directing it to the commercial property sector.
Commercial property safety is the management of risks and hazards within the scope of managing a commercial property agreement to provide a safe environment to any who enters the property.
How To Manage Commercial Properties Safely
To effectively manage a commercial property, you must consider several variables. These variables affect the safety of the occupants and are, in many regions, subject to property standards and regulations. Let’s look at a few key factors that you must consider.
The first and most critical element of managing a commercial property is to control the use of the said property. For example, in most regions, it is unlawful to allow a commercial property tenant to set up a functioning business and residence on a property zoned strictly for commercial use. Therefore, there are typically zoning regulations and requirements to consider before the property even sees its first tenant.
Maximum occupancy is the maximum number of people present in a commercial property at any time. It is a safety measure designed to ensure that the property is not overcrowded and that there is sufficient space for people to move around and evacuate the building if necessary.
Maximum occupancy is usually determined based on factors such as the property’s size, the building’s layout, the availability of exits, and other safety features. You’ll find it typically specified in a building’s fire code or occupancy permit, and property owners are responsible for ensuring that the occupants don’t exceed
the maximum occupancy.
In some cases, local zoning laws or other regulations will limit maximum occupancy. Property owners should be aware of these requirements and make sure that they comply with them. If an inspector finds a property violates its maximum occupancy, the owner may face fines or legal consequences.
Fire exits, fire extinguishers, and proper lighting are a small part of your responsibility to fire prevention. Fire prevention is critical in any property, but some commercial properties become higher risk depending on the operations of the businesses on the premises.
Most regions require by law that a commercial property maintain a minimum of 2 exits. However, the regulations can change based on area, so you should complete your determination of exact rules at the local level; usually, consulting with a building code enforcement agent or official will do the trick. There are many things to consider about regulations, especially regarding fire exits and fire suppression systems of commercial properties. We recommend you read our Guide To Exit Sign Requirements and Inspection to get a better idea.
For your property fire exits and fire prevention, we recommend the following checklists:
- Fire Exit Inspection Checklist
- Fire Incident Report Checklist
- Fire Extinguisher Inspection Checklist
In many commercial lease agreements, stipulations often result in the property owner and manager holding responsibility for maintaining the grounds. This act might include maintaining grass, walkways, roadways, and snow removal in northern climates. If you manage a property that sees harsh winters, then you know that maintaining safe conditions can be a challenge at the best of times.
There are several considerations to property maintenance and regulations.
In order to maintain appropriate conditions for the grounds, it is essential to either employ grounds staff or subcontract the grounds maintenance to a third party. However, as property management, you’ll need to ensure these services are correctly performed and when needed most. This part of the property management process calls for a tool to help you document conditions on the property. You can use the following templates for your property inspections to document grounds conditions and other issues:
Other Variables That Affect Safety In Commercial Properties
Many factors can affect the safety of occupants on a commercial property. Some of the most critical include:
- Building design and layout: The design and layout of a building can impact safety by determining how easily people can move around the property and evacuate in an emergency. Factors to consider include the number and location of exits, the availability of fire suppression systems, and the adequacy of lighting and signage.
- Occupant behavior: The behavior of occupants can also impact safety. For example, if people are not paying attention to their surroundings or are behaving recklessly, they may be more likely to have accidents or injuries. This subject is one of the most difficult for many property managers due to the sensitive nature of confrontation with tenants. Commercial tenants who become problematic often leave property managers seeking legal assistance. In any case, it is challenging to confront. Therefore, regular property inspection documentation might be your best defense.
- Maintenance and upkeep: Proper maintenance and care of a commercial property can help to ensure that it is safe for occupants. It includes ensuring that electrical systems are up to code, repairing structural damage, and maintaining fire suppression systems.
- Health and safety regulations: Local, state and federal laws related to health and safety can also impact the safety of occupants on commercial property. Property owners should be aware of these regulations and comply with them.
Overall, the safety of occupants on a commercial property is a complex issue involving many factors. Property owners and managers should be proactive in addressing these issues to ensure the safety of all occupants.
If managing a commercial property, we recommend a series of inspections and routine investigations to prevent issues and address property hazards before they become a problem. There are several great tools you can use for these sorts of inspections, including downloadable checklists like:
- Property Inspection Report Form
- Rental Property Inspection Checklist
- Property Damage Report Form
- Site Condition Report Template
- Risk Assessment Form
Suppose you prefer the ever-popular technology solution over the archaic paper and clipboard. You will want to try a property inspection using a mobile app like 1st Reporting.
Steps For Implementing Commercial Property Safety Protocol
As a commercial property manager, you will face two scenarios: new tenant onboarding and dealing with existing tenants. Each scenario poses its own challenges regarding implementing a commercial property safety protocol.
For New Tenants
When introducing new tenants to your commercial property, we recommend a straightforward approach with a card-up attitude. If you maintain your expectations and responsibilities from day one, you’ll have fewer problems. Full disclosure is the name of the game here.
We recommend you speak with your real estate agent and lawyer; we’re not giving you legal advice except to talk to your lawyer. Commercial property agreement drafting will require your lawyer’s assistance, and they will be able to answer many questions about your role and responsibilities as property manager or owner.
Typically in a new tenant agreement, the responsibilities of both tenant and landlord are laid out for all to see. Both parties sign this document and shall have the right to a copy. Most regions have specific regulations for the landlord/tenant agreement. However, commercial properties have somewhat more leeway than residential properties, but your local enforcement representative will know for sure.
For Existing Tenants
When you fall into a role that manages a commercial property with existing tenants, making changes might take more work. Here are some recommended steps following clarification of your rights after you have spoken to a lawyer:
- Contact the tenant(s) with your intention to implement safety policies.
- Draft the safety policies in accordance with local regulations and building code
- Have your lawyer review your policy to ensure compliance with laws for the landlord and tenant relationship.
- Prepare and send another communication to tenants regarding the intent to implement a safety policy with a suggested date. Furthermore, it’s advisable to include an invitation to comment to ensure tenant buy-in.
- Prepare and send a final communication to tenants with a final notice of the intended date of policy implementation.
As mentioned, we recommend checking with legal counsel to ensure compliance with local regulations. However, usually implementing safety procedures doesn’t cause too much of an issue due to helping the tenants more than hurting them.
The Solution For Property Safety Management
Mobile apps have revolutionized the way property management completes inspections. Instead of using paper-based methods such as checklists, clipboards, and manual data entry, mobile apps allow for real-time data collection, risk assessment, and actionable insights that you can quickly access on demand.
Mobile apps provide a more efficient and user-friendly way to manage safety protocols for commercial properties.
1st Reporting is one app that allows you to easily create tailored checklists and assign inspections to other staff or contractors from one easy-to-use dashboard. You can also analyze the data collected quickly with our analytics features and keep track of any problems that may arise promptly.
Some features help property managers more than any piece of paper ever could. These features include, but are not limited to:
- Custom and dynamic form building – Create the forms you need to satisfy your organization.
- Custom notifications – Notify the right person when a team member submits a specific report. This feature works well for property managers with multiple properties because one of your team members might complete a damage report at a particular site. You could receive a notification the moment they submit their report. Paper forms take time to travel. Digital forms don’t. Take advantage and watch how an app can dramatically increase your response and inspection or reporting time.
- GPS functionality – Now, you can use the manager’s report dashboard to see all completed reports on a map view of your choice. This function allows you to see reports on a map visually – and you can filter them so you can see exactly what you want when you want to see it. For paper forms to do this, you would need a map to track each form on that map. Our app does this for you – instantly.
- Microsoft Teams® compatible – You won’t miss a thing because the 1st app can send notifications to your Teams® dashboard.
Find out why many organizations are turning to 1st Reporting solutions to replace old paper checklists. Sign up for a demo today.