Entering into a retail lease

What should I be aware of before entering into a retail lease?

Before entering into any leasing arrangement, you should understand your rights, responsibilities and expectations as a tenant or landlord. This is important in helping to avoid disputes. If you are unsure, seek legal advice.

It’s also important to be aware of the following:

  • As soon as negotiations start, the landlord or landlord’s representative must give the tenant (or the person they start negotiations with) a copy of the proposed lease and a copy of the Victorian Small Business Commission’s (VSBC) information brochure – Retail leases: important facts for tenants.
  • A disclosure statement must be given to the tenant at least 14 days before entering into the lease.
  • A lease must be in writing and signed by all the parties to it, and the landlord must give the tenant a copy signed by both parties.
  • The landlord can’t pass on to the tenant the cost of preparing the lease or disclosure statement.
  • A lease term under the Retail Leases Act 2003 (including any options) must be at least five years, though a tenant can request a shorter term.
  • Money paid as a security deposit (bond) must be held by the landlord in an interest bearing account, with the interest forming part of the security deposit.

The Act (with the exception of the dispute resolution provision) doesn’t apply to a lease with a term of less than one year and where the tenant hasn’t been in continuous occupancy for more than one year.

How can the VSBC help?

The VSBC has information for tenants and landlords to help you make good decisions from the start.

If you find yourself in a dispute, the VSBC can help by providing low-cost dispute resolution services. In most situations you will need to come to the VSBC to try dispute resolution before making a claim at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Learn more.

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