The West Australian government will be considering the fairness and transparency of commercial lease arrangements in a statewide review.
Following on from a number of temporary measures that were implemented in response to the economic hardship of COVID-19, Western Australia will now undertake a review of the state’s Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act, which covers small shops operating in shopping centres or shops situated outside of shopping centres that primarily sell goods.
Consumer Protection will embark on a consultation process canvasing retailers, industry groups and the public to identify issues and look at options for change. It seeks to consider whether the act should be expanded to certain small-business service providers operating outside of shopping centres, such as real estate offices, travel agencies, and watch and bike repairs shops.
A discussion paper has been released outlining some of the issues under consideration.
Areas of investigation include the statutory right to a five-year lease term, rent review rules, access to lease information, early termination and end of lease rights, unconscionable or unfair conduct and the right to full disclosure of operating costs such as utility charges.
Currently, the act provides for dispute resolution through the small-business commissioner and State Administrative Tribunal, but feedback is being sought as to the effectiveness of this process.
Commerce Minister Roger Cook urged the West Australian retail community to speak up and make their voices heard to contribute to the improvement of the small-business community at large.
“It’s vital for the WA economy that we have a strong and vibrant retail sector with fair and transparent tenancy agreements an important element. For this reason, I would urge industry participants and interested parties to take part in this public consultation,” he said.
Mr Cook explained how changes enacted during the pandemic had prompted the government to consider an update to the act.
“The McGowan government introduced a temporary code of conduct, a rent rise freeze, eviction moratorium and financial support measures for retail tenants and landlords struggling with the impact of COVID-19 restrictions to help get them through these tough times. Now we are in recovery mode, the government is looking to the future and learning from past experience to ensure that commercial tenancy laws in WA remain fit for purpose,” he said.
“This review is the beginning of a process that aims to achieve the best laws possible to safeguard the viability of the industry for both retail tenants and landlords, now and in the future.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.