The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) is warning landlords and estate agents it will crack down on those who do not provide information to small businesses entering into retail tenancy leases.

Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell said last year more than half the 1,708 disputes made to the Commission were for retail leases issues.

“For a small business, leasing premises is an important decision. We have found that a high number of retail businesses do not understand their rights and responsibilities before signing the lease and then they end up at the VSBC in a dispute,” said Ms O’Connell.

By law landlords or their agents must provide tenants with a retail leases information brochure produced by the VSBC and a copy of the proposed lease at the start of negotiations.

As part of the Small Business Regulation Review announced by the Victorian Government to make leases fairer and easier to understand the VSBC has released a simplified information brochure (fact sheet).

The fact sheet includes an easy to read checklist to guide tenants through what they should be aware of when entering a lease, what to look out for and what they need to understand before they sign.

Ms O’Connell said she would be monitoring compliance with the obligation on landlords or their agents to provide the fact sheet.

“Our approach is first and foremost to educate landlords, commercial agents and small businesses on their rights and responsibilities to save them time, money and emotional expense,” said Ms O’Connell.

“However we are now putting landlords and agents on notice that we will be monitoring compliance with this obligation, and those who don’t provide the brochure could see themselves facing fines of up to $8,000.”

The fact sheet is accessible on the VSBC website: http://www.vsbc.vic.gov.au/retailleasesbrochure

Media contact:

Kim Hargest, Victorian Small Business Commission, kim.hargest@vsbc.vic.gov.au

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