Changes to commercial tenancy laws aimed at creating a level playing field for Western Australian retailers is one step closer, after new laws were passed in state parliament.

The new laws will mean it will help small retailers get a fairer deal in commercial lease negotiations, particularly against larger retailers.

WA commerce minister Simon O’Brien said the Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Amendment Bill 2011 would amend the Act to protect the rights of small business by making negotiations over retail shop leases more transparent, equitable and efficient.

“The new laws shift the balance of bargaining power to create a fairer and more equitable retail tenancy market.  Tenants will be able to make more informed leasing decisions, with landlords required to provide additional information in disclosure statements,” he said.

“The rights of retail tenants will be protected in relation to their options to renew leases and their security of tenure will be enhanced with landlords required to give prior notification of the expiry date of their renewal option.

“Under the amended Act, market rent reviews will be more accurate and transparent with landlords now required to provide relevant leasing information to a valuer. Landlords will now be prohibited from passing on certain legal fees to tenants associated with the preparation of a lease.

The new laws are also aimed to reduce disputes between tenants and landlords.

“Retail tenants will be able to have their claims of misleading and deceptive conduct heard by the state administrative Tribunal, which will reduce costs for small business – a welcome development in the challenging retail environment,” O’Brien said.