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As a commercial tenant, is my landlord required to provide heat to my space?

Seattle, WA |

About 5 years ago, I built out a office space for a dental office. I put in the heating and cooling system myself. That system has since been vandalized and I feel that if I put in the same system again outside, it will be vandalized again. I want my landlord to provide the same kind of heating system the other tenants have uptairs in the residential units. Is he required to do so by law?

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Attorney answers 2


It depends on the terms of your lease.

Commercial leases are different from residential leases in that responsibility for things like heating/cooling systems can be negotiated, and the obligation for such systems could fall on either the tenant or landlord depending on the agreement reached.

Unlike commercial leases, residential leases come with an implied covenant of habitability. This implied covenant imposes certain duties on a landlord to maintain the premises in habitable condition. Failure to do so, such as providing adequate weatherproofing, available heat, water and electricity, and clean, sanitary and structurally safe premises, may be legal justification for a tenant's defensive acts, such as moving out (even in the middle of a lease), paying less rent, withholding the entire rent until the problem is fixed, making necessary repairs (or hiring someone to make them and deducting the cost from next month's rent).

Thus, your landlord's obligations to his residential tenants are different from his obligations to you as a commercial tenant. That being said, if vandalism is regularly occurring at the leased premises, your landlord may be required under your state's laws to take actions to try to mitigate it. Consult with an attorney on your responsibilities under the lease and whether your landlord has any duties to you as a result of reoccurring vandalism.


"About 5 years ago, I built out a office space for a dental office. I put in the heating and cooling system myself." You were installing the system likely because your commercial rental agreement with the landlord provides that you, the tenant, is responsible for the system.

You will need to read the agreement with the landlord carefully to find out what you each agreed to do with each other.

In WA, there is no statute that provides what a landlord must provide to a tenant in a commercial rental. Your written rental agreement likely controls what you and the landlord must do with each other.

You should review your specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.

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