An accident that occurs in a retail establishment in New York may leave the business owner open to a premises liability lawsuit if the customer sustained an injury as a result. However, as commercial tenants rather than property owners, business owners may wonder if perhaps the liability should belong to the landlord.

Often, the answer is in the commercial property lease. Chron.com notes that unlike in a residential lease, commercial leases often shift responsibility for most property maintenance and repairs to the tenant rather than the landlord. But, while the business owner may have to pay to have a leaky pipe fixed or a damaged ceiling tile replaced before they can cause further damage, the landlord may still be responsible for structural repairs that the building needs for safety. It will likely depend on the type of lease that the tenant signed.

Forbes explains that different types of leases may divide the responsibilities and the liability in different ways:

  • Single net lease: The landlord is responsible for the maintenance and repairs as well as the insurance coverage.
  • Double net lease: The landlord is responsible for the maintenance and repairs, but the tenant pays the insurance premiums.
  • Triple net lease: The tenant covers everything except the structural repairs.
  • Modified gross lease: There may be multiple tenants in the building, and the property owner may split the responsibility for structural repairs for the units and common areas in a variety of ways.

Even after carefully reading the lease, it may not be obvious who is liable for the conditions that caused the accident, as a number of other issues may have contributed to the circumstances.