New Tasmanian Bill Proposes Review of Retail Leasing Laws

Friday 3 June 2022 @ 11.26 a.m. | Legal Research | Trade & Commerce

The Retail Leases Bill 2022 (Tas) (“the Bill”) was introduced to Tasmania’s House of Assembly on 31 May 2022 by Minister for Workplace Safety and Consumer Affairs Elise Archer ("the Minister").

As outlined in the Bill’s Fact Sheet, the Bill:

“ … [seeks to] provide contemporary regulation of retail leases in Tasmania. The Bill will facilitate the certainty and fairness of retail premises leasing arrangements between landlords and tenants...
The Bill will apply to retail premises (which are generally defined to be premises that are to be used wholly or predominantly for the retail sale or hire of goods or the retail provision of services) with a floor area of 1000m2 or less, akin to the existing Code... the Bill will apply to a lease of six months or more. In circumstances where the lease is less than six months, the Bill will also apply if the tenant has been in possession for six months because the retail lease was renewed or continued one or more times.”

The Bill also contains provisions that seek to repeal and replace the Fair Trading (Code of Practice for Retail Tenancies) Regulations 1998 (Tas) (“the Regulation”).

The Bill is yet to pass the lower house.

Amendments under the Bill

The Bill contains provisions that seeks to provide the Director of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading (“the Director”) with special functions and powers relating to retail lease matters. This includes functions to investigate and enforce determinations in regards to these leases.

The Bill also contains clauses that seek to introduce important dispute resolution provisions. The Minister describes in her second reading speech that:

“the Bill also sets out a mediation-based dispute resolution process if direct negotiation between parties fails. Under the provisions, a party to the lease may make an application to the Director for the mediation of a retail tenancy dispute. The Director may then appoint a qualified mediator to hear the dispute, where the costs of mediation are to be met by both parties. If parties to the dispute fail to resolve the matters between themselves, either party may refer the dispute to a prescribed body.”

Comment by the Minister

The Minister commented in a Media Release:

“The legislation marks the first major update of retail leasing regulation in Tasmania since 1998, and sets out processes relating to retail leases, the rights of tenants, and complaint and dispute resolution processes. Retail lease regulation impacts a significant number of Tasmania businesses and the legislation is the result of a comprehensive review, including two separate rounds of public consultation”.

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Retail Leases Bill 2022 (Tas) and additional explanatory materials available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

Media Release: Streamlining and modernising Tasmania’s legislation around retail leases (Minister for Workplace Safety and Consumer Affairs, 31 May 2022)

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