As the New Year comes around, Western Australian retailers will be able to negotiate leases in a more levelled playing field.

Changes to the retail shop laws that have been created to create a more equitable commercial tenancy market for WA retailers engaged in lease negotiations will come into force on 1 January, 2013.

WA Commerce Minister Simon O’Brien said these changes, including the introduction of a Small Business Commissioner earlier this year, were part of reforms aimed at assisting small business.
“Disputes over a lease and claims of deceptive conduct can now be referred to the Small Business Commissioner for mediation before the matter goes before the State Administration Tribunal (SAT), a change that will hopefully see disputes between retailers and landlords being resolved more efficiently,” he said.
The new retail shop laws will also address some of the main grievances small businesses have experienced with their lease negotiations and agreements.
“Commercial lease negotiations will be more transparent and equitable with commercial landlords being required to provide additional information in user-friendly and comprehensive disclosure statements, to allow tenants to make informed decisions about leasing arrangements,” O’Brien said.
Landlords will be required to give prior notification of the expiry date of their renewal option on leases, enhancing the security of tenure for retailers. Market rent reviews will be more accurate and clearer, with landlords having to provide relevant leasing information to a valuer. 
Landlords will also be prohibited from passing on certain legal fees to tenants associated with the preparation of a lease.
“The changes are designed to create a level playing field and protect the rights of retailers by making negotiations over retail shop leases more transparent, equitable and efficient,” the Minister said.
“The commencement of these changes adds to the State Government’s reforms implemented this year to assist small business retail tenants.”