Understanding commercial leases in WA can be daunting, particularly if you are entering into business for the first time. Leases are complicated documents and unless you understand them thoroughly it is easy to make mistakes. Poorly drafted terms, and a failure to understand your rights and obligations under the lease could cost you dearly. It is vital to understand every aspect of your lease before you sign and to obtain expert legal and financial advice before committing to the contract.
Getting Started – What to do before you sign
There are a great number of factors you must consider before committing to leasing a commercial premises, most of which relate to whether the property is the right fit for you and your business. You must ‘do your homework’ to ensure that when it comes time to negotiate the terms of your lease you understand your minimum requirements – what you are happy to negotiate and what you simply won’t budge on.
It is best practice to ensure all representations and statements made by the landlord and their agents are made in writing. Seek thorough legal advice before signing any documents (the lease included), moving into the premises or paying a deposit.
Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act 1985
A vast number of commercial leases in WA will be regulated by the Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act 1985. Important amendments were made to this Act and its Regulations in early 2013, so if the Act relates to your lease it is vital to be aware of how it affects you.
The Act requires the Landlord to perform a number of disclosure-related tasks before the lease is signed, including providing the Tenant with copies of:
As a tenant you should ensure all documentation is in order before finalising the lease. And even where your lease doesn’t fall under the requirements of the Act it is best practice to request a disclosure statement in any event.
Your must ensure your commercial lease contains terms which are specifically tailored to your business, to ensure that you operate profitably. Some key terms to consider are listed below:
Dispute Resolution For Commercial Leases in WA
Should you find yourself at odds with the landlord over the terms of the lease or the leasing process, there are a number of ways you can attempt to address the issue, beginning with direct negotiation. Should that fail you may try a more formal approach, such as taking the dispute to the Small Business Commissioner, who will attempt to assist the parties by direct negotiation and mediation.
Finally, you may need to seek legal advice with a view to pursuing the matter through the State Administrative Tribunal or law courts.
It is vital that you obtain expert advice regarding your commercial lease before you sign, as avoiding pitfalls early on may save you a great deal of time and money later. If you would like further advice, contact our experienced property Solicitors at Go To Court Lawyers on 1300 636 846.