Property management FAQs
Answers to questions about the responsibilities of property managers and owners, and body corporates under the Health and Safety at Work Act
Under HSWA, a commercial property owner/landlord is a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU). This means you have a duty of care, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved with or affected by work on or at your property. This includes work that you organise or are responsible for.
Those that could be affected include tenants, contractors engaged by you, or members of the public visiting your property.
Under HSWA, a property manager is also a PCBU and will also have a duty of care, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the health and safety of everybody involved with or affected by work on the property that you are responsible for.
As the property manager you will also have responsibility for the management and control of the property with the duty to ensure the property (if it’s a workplace) is without risks to health and safety.
Commercial tenants are also PCBUs and you have the same duty of care as other PCBUs, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the health and safety of your own workers and others.
If you are a residential tenant, you only have a responsibility under the Act when work is carried out on the property. You have to take reasonable care for your own and others’ health and safety, and follow any reasonable instructions given by the PCBU doing the work (for example, a plumber or electrician).
When there is more than one business involved, you all must work together, so far as is reasonably practicable, by consulting, cooperating, and coordinating your activities in relation to workplace health and safety.
More than one business can have a duty in relation to the same matter. This is called overlapping duties.
See Working with other businesses for more information.
Yes. Under HSWA, a Body Corporate is considered to be a PCBU. As a result, a Body Corporate has a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from its work. These duties apply to matters over which the Body Corporate has influence and control.
An officer is someone who holds a senior leadership position and has the ability to significantly influence the management of a PCBU, for example directors, trustees, board members. Officers have a duty because they make policy and investment decisions that can affect workplace health and safety. Every officer has a duty – it is not a joint duty.
For example, members of the Management Committee of a Body Corporate are officers and have a duty of due diligence under HSWA. While the Body Corporate is the PCBU and has the primary duty of care to ensure workplace health and safety, the committee members have a duty to make sure the Body Corporate is doing what it needs to do to ensure the health and safety of workers and others when work is being carried out on the common areas of the property.
Officers themselves don’t have the duty to keep people safe – that is the duty of the PCBU (the Body Corporate), but as leaders of the organisation they should make sure the organisation is doing the right things to manage risks (so far as is reasonably practicable).
See the Officer FAQs for more information.
If you are a residential landlord, you are a PCBU under the law. The steps that you can take to meet your legal duties are straightforward.
Engage competent contractors to do any work on the property
We don’t expect a landlord to be an expert in the trade that is required to complete work. Once a tradesperson or appropriate skilled contractor has been engaged, that contractor then has the responsibility to ensure that the work they do does not put the health and safety of others (including tenants) at risk.
Ensure any serious injury or illness arising from work is notified
Contractors should notify us if any serious injury or illness occurs while work is being undertaken. Landlords should check this has been done (where they become aware of such incidents).
None of this requires extensive manuals or paper-based systems, although property management companies or landlords with numerous properties may choose to use documented systems to keep on top of requirements and make it easier to track the progress of work activities.
Any matter concerning accommodation standards and conditions for residential tenancies is covered by tenancy law, so we will not become involved.
Where someone is temporarily renting out a family home or a part of a home (for example Air BnB), we have no particular interest in such premises.
As a matter of common sense and in the interests of ensuring safety however, it is sensible for Air BnB operators (or others) to avoid having any significant work carried out on/in the home while it is fully or partially rented out.