On 10 May 2016 the Queensland Parliament passed the Retail Shop Leases Amendment Bill 2015, making a number of significant changes to the current legislation.  These changes commenced operation on 25 November 2016.

If you are a party to a retail shop lease you need to be aware of these changes, as they will likely have a direct affect on you and your business.  A summary of the more important changes is set out below.

Is it really a “Retail Shop Lease”?

The definition of a retail shop lease now specifically excludes leases or licences for:

  1. premises which have an area greater than 1,000m2 (regardless of the identity of the tenant);
  2. a lease of premises for an ATM, vending machines and advertising displays; and
  3. premises for non-retail businesses located in a level of a multi-level or single level retail shopping centre in certain circumstances.

Therefore your lease may no longer be governed by the Retail Shop Leases Act.  Please feel free to contact our office if you have any queries in this regard.

When is a lease “entered into”?

A lease is now regarded as having been “entered into” on the earliest of the date that the:

  1. lease is signed by all the parties;
  2. lessee takes possession of the shop; and
  3. lessee first pays rent.

If you are considering doing any of the above activities, please first contact our office to discuss your rights and obligations under the prospective lease.

Exercise of Option

Landlords must now provide a current disclosure statement within seven days of the tenant exercising an option to renew, unless the tenant waives that requirement.

Tenants may withdraw their notice of exercise of option for any reason within fourteen days of receiving the disclosure statement.  Failure to provide the current disclosure statement will also give the tenant a right to terminate the lease within the first six months of the option period.

Assignment

If you are a tenant looking to assign your lease, you must now give the prospective assignee a disclosure statement and a copy of the lease at least seven days before the earlier of the day:

  1. the assignee enters into the contract; and
  2. the lessor is asked to consent to the assignment.

Further, guarantors of the assignor are now released from liability under a lease provided the disclosure obligations are complied with.

If you are a tenant looking to assign your lease, please contact our office to discuss your disclosure obligations in detail.

Refurbishment

A clause requiring the tenant to refurbish the premises is void unless the clause gives the general details of the nature, extent and timing of the refurbishment.

There are also a number of changes relating to disclosure obligations, relocation provisions, franchises and subleases, compensation and costs provisions, market rent reviews and ratchet clauses.

What does this mean for you?

Retail shop leases are complex documents, and these legislative amendments have ‘shifted the goal posts’.  If you would like assistance regarding your existing lease, or a lease which you are currently considering, please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

Rebecca Rutland
Solicitor
Business & Property