Commercial landlords could face huge legal claims from tenants for failing to address millennium bug problems which will render many offices unusable next year.
Action 2000, a millennium bug watchdog set up by the government, has launched a campaign called 'Buildings Check' to spur landlords into action to fix door entry systems, lifts, heating systems, car park barriers and other equipment containing embedded microchips, which could malfunction after the New Year.
"Many buildings have critical equipment containing date sensitive microchips, and if tenants can't get in to their buildings on 4 January they could technically sue," an Action 2000 spokeswoman said. "These sorts of systems have been low on the list of embedded systems that need to be checked and many companies seem to have forgotten about their own buildings."
The millennium bug effects the way microchips recognise dates and failures in these embedded systems would have a serious effect on businesses.
Action 2000 says false fire alarm signals could result in unnecessary evacuations, heating and air conditioning equipment shutting down and security malfunctions could render insurance policies invalid - increase the impact of theft or vandalism.
Action 2000 estimates that between one per cent and six per cent of embedded systems will experience millennium bug related problems.
A booklet launched as part of the campaign outlines the types of equipment that are vulnerable to the millennium bug and ways of checking for possible problems and points to sources of help.
Action 2000 has printed 120,000 copies of the booklet that will be distributed in the property trade press.
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