Chapter 16 Scenario 2

Principal contractor scenario 2 – Tenant works


A tenant in a building is proposing to undertake fitout works. Who determines who is to be the principal contractor?


Harmonised jurisdictions

The tenant may engage the contractor carrying out its fitout works as principal contractor for the construction project. However, in the absence of such engagement, the tenant, being a person conducting a business or undertaking that commissions a construction project, is the default principal contractor under the harmonised legislation.


As the tenant is not the owner of the site, it has no direct obligation or right to appoint a principal contractor. If a tenant undertakes fitout works and a principal contractor is not appointed, by default the owner of the site will be the principal contractor. Landlords and tenants should agree as to who will fill the role of principal contractor, based on their attitudes to control over OH&S issues and risk. This should be detailed in the lease documentation.

Western Australia

As the works are being done for the tenant, either the tenant or the tenant’s builder will be deemed the ‘main contractor’ by the WA Regulations.