In our climate, effective air conditioning is usually very important to any lease of retail or office space. A recent Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal case highlighted the legal importance of properly documenting and then complying with air conditioning arrangements.

In this case the tenant operated a Pilates studio from a retail premises in Melbourne. When the lease commenced the parties agreed to insert a special condition to the effect that –

  • the landlord would install new air conditioning;
  • thereafter it would be the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the air conditioning; but
  • the landlord remained responsible for any capital repair costs.

Rather than install new air conditioning however the parties subsequently agreed that the landlord would refurbish an existing air conditioning unit installed in the premises. The landlord did that but the unit did not function properly. The tenant advised the landlord of the problems and requested the air conditioner to be replaced. The landlord counted that it was the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the air conditioning unit per the special condition in the lease.

Ten weeks after the tenant notified the landlord of the air conditioning problems, the tenant vacated the premises and argued that the landlord’s failure to repair or replace the air conditioning unit amounted to a repudiation of the lease by the landlord.

The Tribunal agreed with the tenant. In doing so it made various findings of fact including that the landlord’s failure to make the air conditioning system function properly was a fundamental breach of the lease.

At Everingham Solomons we can help both landlords and tenants in properly documenting agreed arrangements in relation to air conditioning and all other lease issues because Helping You is Our Business.

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