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The Queensland Government has re-introduced the Retail Shop Leases Amendment Bill again into parliament after the original Bill lapsed when the last election was called. The Bill followed extensive consultation as a part of the statutory review that started in 2013. The NRA was a member of the Reference Group that considered all the proposals that were put forward and assisted in identified where there was consensus, differences and where a compromise was possible.

The key consideration for the Reference Group was the need for balance between safeguarding the interests of retail tenants while ensuring that that government did not unnecessarily interfere with commercial negotiations. At the same time efforts were made to reduce the regulatory and compliance burden on business.

The amendments:

  • clarify the application of the Disclosure Statement;
  • enhance protection for lessees including prospective purchasers of retail businesses and the release from ongoing liability of assignors and their guarantors on assignment of lease;
  • clarify the lessor’s compensation for compensation to the lessee’s business for business

The enhanced lessee protections include:

  • the lessor to provide a disclosure statement to an existing lessee on renewal of a lease under an option;
  • facilitating appropriate disclosure to franchisees;
  • ensuring a lessee is only liable to refurbish the shop during the term of the lease to the extent that is detailed in the lease;
  • the annual outgoings budgets and audited statements must give a breakdown of the management fees;
  • the landlord must make available to the tenant the marketing plan detailing the proposed advertising/promotional expenditure;
  • the lessor is liable for mortgagee consent costs;
  • enhanced protection for prospective purchasers through the assignor

There has also been a range of general improvements, red tape reduction and clarifications to make the Act more easily understood. These include:

  • clarification of the accounting and reporting of the promotion/advertising and sinking finds;
  • clarification of various definitions and provisions;
  • provision of reasonable timeframes;
  • clarifies and improves the efficiency of the current market review provisions; and
  • improves matters relating to QCAT and retail shop lease

There are also a number of provisions that have been amended to align with those in the other eastern states. The Bill now has been referred to the Committee stage for further consideration. The Association will keep you informed as to its progress.