Retail Leases Act 2003

The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) has a number of functions under the Retail Leases Act 2003 (the Act). As well as dispute resolution and mediation services, one of our main functions is to provide landlords, tenants and other relevant parties with information about the operation of the Act.

Changes to retail leasing – Retail Leases Amendment Act 2020

Retail landlords and tenants in Victoria need to be aware of important changes under the Retail Leases Amendment Act 2020 that amended the Retail Leases Act 2003.

Essential safety measures – a landlord can now pass on the costs of repairing and maintaining or installing as part of a fit out, essential safety measures to their tenant – but only if the lease and disclosure statement or annual estimate of outgoings says so.

Security deposits (bonds) – a landlord must give the deposit back to their tenant within 30 days of the lease ending, if the tenant has met their obligations.

Disclosure statements – a landlord must give their tenant a disclosure statement and copy of the proposed lease no later than 14 days before the lease is entered into. If changes are made to the copy of the proposed lease that had been given to the tenant, the landlord must notify the tenant of these changes when giving them the updated lease no later than 14 days before the lease is entered into. If the disclosure statement and lease is given later than 14 days, the start date is taken to be 14 days after they are given to the tenant. For renewed leases, the landlord must notify the tenant of any changes to the previous disclosure statement.

Option to renew, early rent review and cooling off – a landlord must notify their tenant at least three months before the option is no longer valid of:

  • the latest date the lease can be renewed
  • rent for the first 12 months
  • the availability of an early rent review and cooling off period – tenants now have 14 days after exercising an option to change their mind and not continue with the next lease term.

Entering into a retail lease

To help avoid disputes, tenants and landlords need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities before entering into a retail lease agreement. Learn more.

Information brochure

A copy of the VSBC’s information brochure – Retail leases: important facts for tenants – must be given to the prospective tenant by the landlord (or a person acting on their behalf) with a copy of the proposed lease as soon as they start lease negotiations. Failure to do so is an offence.

Five-year waiver certificate

If the tenant requests a lease term less than five years, the VSBC can issue a five-year waiver certificate certifying that the tenant has waived their right to an initial lease term (including options) of less than five years.

Appointing a specialist retail valuer

If the landlord and tenant cannot agree on rent and the appointment of their own valuer, the VSBC can appoint a specialist retail valuer to determine the amount of rent to be paid under a lease.

The Retail Leases Regulations and Ministerial Determinations complement the Act and affect the Act’s application to retail leases.

Other relevant legislation includes:

  • Section 146 of the Property Law Act 1958: this covers the requirements of landlords to notify tenants before they terminate a lease, except for non-payment of rent.
  • Part 4.2 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012: this covers goods left on leased premises.

Accessing help early on

If you are unsure about your rights and obligations or are in a dispute about landlord or tenant responsibilities, please contact us by calling 13 8722 or emailing us.

Our staff can either help you with your enquiry or point you in the right direction.

 

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