Clarity For Victorian Farmers On Retail Leases

The Andrews Labor Government has acted to remove uncertainty around the application of the Retail Leases Act 2003 on leased farming premises by confirming the exclusion of farm leases from the Act.

A Ministerial Determination was made this week by Minister for Small Business Adem Somyurek clarifying that the Act does not apply to leases of farm premises for commercial farming purposes.

The Determination was made after a recent case resulted in concerns that the definition of retail was broader than intended by the Parliament.

Tenants on a leased farm can continue to be covered by the Act if the leased premises are used for the retail sale of goods and services to consumers, such as cheese stores and winery cellar doors selling to the public.

The Retail Leases Act provides certainty and fairness in retail leasing arrangements between landlords and small business tenants, as well as the provision of mechanisms for resolving disputes around retail leases without costly court action.

The Labor Government tabled separate amendments to the Act this week which will make it easier for small retail business owners to understand their leases and get security deposits back quicker.

The Retail Leases Amendment Bill 2019 provides prospective tenants more time to consider their lease offers and enable existing tenants to make more informed decisions when considering lease extensions.

The amendments are part of the Government’s commitment to cutting red tape for owners and making Victoria the best state to run a small business.

Victoria is home to more than 604,000 small businesses, 39,000 of which are in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Small Business Adem Somyurek

“The Retail Leases Act was never intended to apply to the operation of commercial farming businesses and this determination reinforces that fact.”

“We are acting to provide farmers with certainty following recent legal judgements that may have broadened the scope of the Retail Leases Act past that intended by the Parliament.”

“Fairer retail leases and less red tape are an essential part of making Victoria the best state in Australia to grow a small business.”