As a Retail Tenant in Victoria under the Retail Leases Act, a Landlord is required by law to provide you with certain documentation before and after you sign your lease and during the term of your lease. It is important to understand if you are a Retail Tenant under the Act as this will outline your rights and responsibilities during the whole term of your lease. You can read more information here about how to determine if you come under the Act.
It’s easy to assume that the Landlord knows what they’re doing but this isn’t always the case. You should have at least a basic understanding of the leasing process before you commence your property search. This is certainly where the benefits of using a Tenant Representative start, as we always ensure that your rights as a Tenant under the Act are adhered to by the Landlord.
The leasing process usually works as follows:
- A preferred property is chosen
- Negotiated terms are documented within an Offer to Lease or Heads of Agreement signed by both parties. This is not a legally binding document, but rather an agreement to enter into a Lease.
- The Lease and Disclosure Statement are prepared by the Landlord’s solicitor and reviewed by the Tenant’s solicitor. The Disclosure Statement outlines the costs associated with leasing the property, including all budgeted outgoings and other important commercial terms such as lease options.
- The Lease and Disclosure Statement are signed and exchanged, first months rent and outgoings are paid and the Tenant takes occupation of the premises
During this process there are a number of requirements that the Landlord needs to follow, as this ensures transparency and no nasty surprises for the Tenant later on.
At least seven days before signing a new lease the Landlord must provide you with the Disclosure Statement and a copy of the completed lease. If the Landlord doesn’t provide you with the Disclosure Statement you can:
- withhold rent, provided that you have notified the landlord within 90 days of signing the lease
- terminate the lease within 28 days of signing the lease although the Landlord can object to this
- terminate the lease within 7 days of receiving the disclosure statement after you have signed the lease
Once you have signed the lease, the Landlord must provide you with a copy within 28 days.
Please note this information is general advice and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that you seek legal advice relating to the Retail Leases Act 2003 from the Small Business Commissioner or a Solicitor who specialises in commercial property leases.