Commercial tenants operate under a different set of rules to residential tenants, so it’s important that you understand your basic rights.
Firstly, be aware that each state and territory has its own set of laws in relation to commercial and retail leases. Your rights, therefore, are set out under both state specific legislation as well as your lease (as long as it complies with the legislation). For example, in New South Wales, retail leases are governed by the Retail Leases Act 1994 and in Victoria, by the Retail Leases Act 2004.
Entering into a lease
In both states, the legislation also regulates the standard terms of a retail shop lease as well as who pays of the cost of preparing said lease. However, for the majority of other commercial leases there is minimal regulation and such matters are left to the lessor (the landlord) and the lessee (the tenant) to negotiate.
Resolving a dispute
Similarly, the legislation in both states also sets out a process for dispute resolution in the case of retail shop leases. There must first be an attempt at resolving the dispute by way of either mediation or another form of settlement meeting before the dispute can be determined by a court or tribunal with jurisdiction. This is an attempt to ensure that both the lessor and lessee at least have attempted to settle their dispute. Meanwhile, other commercial leases will generally have to be determined by a court.
If you do find yourself in the middle of a dispute, we recommend first trying to resolve the issues as amicably as possible. Speak directly and politely with the other party, and try to negotiate so both you and the other party will be satisfied with the outcome. If possible, aim for a win/win rather than a win/lose outcome. Failing that, we recommend that you seek legal advice.