The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) has developed new guidance to help retail tenants prepare for the end of their lease.
By taking practical steps, you can ensure you meet your responsibilities, avoid running into issues and focus on closing – or relocating – your small business.
Understand your requirements when it comes to giving notice – it’s important to check these with your landlord or agent to make sure you’re not liable for any additional rent
Make sure you understand ‘make good’ requirements – for example, you might have an obligation to remove the fit-out, repair any damage above fair wear and tear or return the premises to the condition it was in at the start of the lease – if you’re not sure, check with your landlord or agent
Ask for an early inspection – this gives you time to remove or repair anything that will impact your ability to make good
Keep conversations or agreements about the state of the premises in writing
Prepare a full inventory of all fit-outs and fixtures at the premises and share this with your landlord or agent
Confirm with your landlord or agent and service providers when essential services should be disconnected
Check your records for all rent and outgoings paid throughout the tenancy – crosscheck these with your landlord or agent early on so there are no surprises after you vacate the premises
Make sure you’re across your rights – once your lease has ended and you have met all of your obligations, your landlord must give you back your security deposit within 30 days along with any interest earned, and must also account for the interest
For more information - See the VSBC’s hub of guidance on leasing rights and responsibilities. If there are any unresolved issues at the end of the lease, don’t hesitate to contact the VSBC for guidance on your options. If you find yourself in a retail leasing dispute, you can apply to the VSBC for impartial help to resolve it.
Mediation fee increases
To help ensure that we can continue to provide our alternative dispute resolution services, we need to increase the fees that we charge for our mediations. The VSBC’s mediation fees have not increased in over 15 years and there is a need to increase the contribution that each party makes towards to the actual cost of our mediations.
For applications received from 1 September 2023, mediation fees for each party will increase to $300 (incl. GST) for a half-day session and $600 (incl. GST) for a full-day session. To ensure our services stay low cost, the remainder of the actual cost of providing the mediation will continue to be subsidised by the Victorian Government.
There are two exceptions to this:
- Farm debt mediations will remain at $195 per party
- Gig workers in a dispute with their digital platform will continue to not pay a mediation fee at this time
Moving forward, the mediations fees will be reviewed annually in line with the Treasurer’s Annual Indexation rate.
Lynda McAlary-Smith, Victorian Small Business Commissioner
Victorian Small Business Commission