On this page
- Understand your legal responsibilities
- Find out who can help you with questions or problems
Good business practice when leasing your retail or commercial space includes:
- using the Victorian Small Business Commissioner's (VSBC) website
- contacting your industry association for any lease negotiation assistance
- understanding the obligations of you and the landlord when you sign a lease
- knowing the lease requirements, commercial or retail, including the Retail Leases Act 2003
- consulting an adviser for any contract and legal questions you have
- investigating zoning, permits and building requirements for your premises
- planning financial arrangements, payments, taxes and cash-flow.
How can the VSBC help with my lease?
Seek advice to guide you. The Victorian Small Business Commissioner helps both tenants and landlords. A good starting point is the Victorian Small Business Commissioner website with information on land tax, assigning or ending a lease, compensation, maintenance and repairs, outgoings, renewals, security deposits and more.
What the landlord and tenant have to do
For a new retail lease the landlord is legally required to give the tenant:
- a written lease with matters agreed to and signed off by both parties.
- a copy of the proposed lease as soon as the lease negotiations start
- a disclosure statement
- the Victorian Small Business Commissioner Information Brochure as soon as the lease negotiations start.
For retail leases the landlord must detail the outgoings the tenant has to pay. The VSBC website has a copy of the landlord’s disclosure statement covering the types of outgoings the tenant may have to pay. The Retail Leases Act 2003 covers the obligations for both the landlord and tenant. For example, the landlord must repair and maintain the premises in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy. The tenant and landlord must follow certain steps for a transfer of the lease.
Fixing a lease issue
1. Try to fix it yourself
Conflict and disputes between landlords and tenants are a fact of life. If you find yourself in a dispute, your first step should be to try to resolve the issue. Speak directly and politely with the other party, and try to negotiate so both parties will be satisfied with the outcome. If possible, aim for a win/win rather than a win/lose outcome.
2. Contact the VSBC
If your first step fails you should contact the VSBC which provides a speedy and low cost dispute resolution process. The VSBC investigates disputes and organises mediation sessions between tenants and landlords with independent mediators. The aim is to help you resolve a dispute before it becomes legal action.
3. Contact the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
For a matter to proceed to VCAT, the Small Business Commissioner must issue a certificate stating that mediation was tried and failed. VCAT will conduct a formal hearing and make a determination. It can order a party who refuses to take part in VSBC mediation to pay the costs of the other party.