The Queensland Government moves to reduce retail red tape

The Queensland Government has moved to reduce red tape and improve transparency in retail leasing in Queensland.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath introduced the Retail Shop Leases Amendment Bill 2015 in Parliament today.

The Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 (Qld) governs retail leasing in Queensland.

It aims to promote efficiency and equity in the conduct of certain retail business in Queensland.

Mrs D'Ath said the Act sets out minimum standards for retail shop leases and provides a low cost dispute resolution process.

The aim of the Act is to encourage good leasing practice and fairness during the negotiation and term of the lease, Mrs DAth said.

It aims to address imbalance in negotiating power and access to information between major shopping centre landlords and small retail tenants.

Mrs D'Ath said the Retail Shop Leases Amendment Bill 2015 is the result of extensive consultation during a review of the Act which started in 2011, involving an industry stakeholder reference group and taking in more than 58 submissions.

The Retail Shop Leases Amendment Bill 2015 represents the Queensland Governments respect for a very long consultation process, and the hard work of stakeholders, over many years, Mrs DAth said.

The reference group has been consulted in the drafting of this Bill and I thank them for their work.

This Bill enhances protection for retail tenants.

It will safeguard prospective buyers of a retail business by requiring the seller to provide disclosures about the lease for the business premises, before a business contract is entered into.

It also improves transparency for tenants in relation to centre management fees and marketing costs.

Other amendments in the Bill directed at reducing red tape for the Queensland retail sector include:

Excluding certain non-retail leases from the operation of the Act;
Narrowing the Acts coverage by excluding leases with a floor area greater than 1000m2 in recognition that these tenants are generally sophisticated business operators who do not require special protection; and
Exempting shopping centre landlords from liability to compensate tenants for trading losses where the centre is closed in an emergency situation (for example, during flooding).

Mrs D'Ath said the Bill also includes various amendments to clarify and improve the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the Act, including by providing flexibility for tenant waiver of the landlord disclosure period and streamlining current market rent determination processes.

"This Bill has been referred to the Legal Affairs Parliamentary Committee for consideration," Mrs D'Ath said.

"Members of the public will have the opportunity to make submissions to the committee."

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