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Business lease disputes

Business and commercial lease disputes frequently occur and the actions of one party can have major financial impacts on the other. Disputes most often arise when parties are uncertain of their rights and obligations under the terms of the lease.

In Queensland, business leases are either retail or non-retail. Retail leases apply to premises that serve customers directly, such as shops, whereas non-retail leases apply to premises such as warehouses and factories. Legislation includes the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 (Qld) (the RSL Act) and the Property Law Act 1974 (Qld) (the PLA).

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Lease terms

Parties to a business lease can negotiate the lease’s terms and conditions. Factors considered may include:

  • protection from competition, especially if the shop is in a shopping centre which has shops owned by the same landlord;
  • potential to expand or diversify;
  • outgoings to be paid and when they are due;
  • a right to renew or end the lease before it expires;
  • an option to sub-let the premises;
  • a right to transfer or assign the lease; and
  • the impact of a lease on a franchise agreement.

Business leases usually require the tenant to keep the premises clean and in good condition, which includes repairing or replacing fixtures or fittings. The landlord is usually responsible for structural maintenance.

A landlord will often require a tenant to pay lease registration fees, mortgage consent fees and other charges to operate from the premises.

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Retail Leases

Retail shop leases

A “retail shop” is a premises in a retail shopping centre or a premises that is used wholly or predominantly for retail business. A lease for a retail shop is governed by the RSL Act except in certain situations, such as when the lease is for:

  • a retail shop with a floor area of more than 1000 square metres;
  • a retail shop leased from the South Bank Corporation and the lease is a perpetual lease or a lease of at least 100 years;
  • premises in a theme or amusement park;
  • a temporary retail stall at an agricultural trade show or a carnival, festival or cultural event;
  • a site at a flea market, such as an arts and craft market;
  • an automatic teller machine or vending machine; or
  • storage or parking.
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How we help

How we can help you

Most lease agreements will contain a clause setting out how disputes between the parties to the agreement are to be resolved. In many cases, this may involve referring a dispute to mediation.

The RSL Act specifically provides for disputes between lessors and tenants to be referred to mediation before an appointed mediator.

If a dispute cannot be resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution, a party may bring an application to a tribunal, such as the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or a court, seeking relief under either the PLA or the RSL Act.

Gibbs Wright can help in a variety of ways, including preparing and submitting your legal documents, and representing you in applications and hearings.

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Who we can help 

Whether you are a landlord, property owner or tenant involved in a business lease dispute, Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers can provide legal advice on your rights and obligations to help resolve it.

Call Gibbs Wright today for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced litigation lawyers to discuss your lease dispute and explore your options.

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Your team

Your lease disputes team

Melany Dowse


Rebekka Hallberg

Mitchell Caldwell

Litigation solicitor

Mitchell Caldwell

Special CounSEL

Melany Dowse

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Why us

Why choose Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers

The legislation that regulates commercial tenancies is long and complex, and common law decisions about the interpretation of that legislation is even more so. 

Our solicitors are experienced professionals that deal with dispute resolution and litigation daily. If you have a concern about a potential dispute involving your business lease, we can provide you with high-quality advice to help you avoid it. If a leasing dispute has already arisen, we can represent you through the legal process, including to trial.

Contact us about your lease matter for a free and confidential initial consultation to discuss your legal rights and obligations. We are here to help you anywhere in  Australia from our base in Brisbane.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What factors should I consider when terminating a business lease?

A decision to terminate a commercial lease or retail shop lease should not be made lightly. There are many factors to consider, including:

• outgoings and rent payable before the termination date;
• repairs and cleaning required to restore the premises to its original condition;
• whether any third parties need to be consulted or notified;
• how and when the bond will be returned; and
• who will pay termination costs.

Ensure you consider all of these factors and possibly seek legal advice before proceeding with the termination of your lease.

When can a landlord enter and take possession of a premises?

A landlord has a right to enter and reclaim a premises in situations such as when rent is in arrears for one month, or a tenant has continued to breach the lease for two months. The lessor must first have served a Notice to Remedy Breach of Covenant on the tenant.

If a tenant refuses to leave a premises at the end of the lease, a landlord may apply to a court for an order such as a Warrant of Possession, which allows an authorised person to enter to eject the tenant and remove the tenant’s belongings.

Can I transfer my business lease to another business?

A lease may be transferred, or “assigned” to another tenant, but only with the landlord’s consent.

A landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent. The landlord can require payment for any legal costs associated with the transfer.

Do I have to engage a lawyer for lease disputes?

Engaging a lawyer is not compulsory when dealing with lease disputes but proper legal advice is vital to ensure you are protecting your rights, as well as maximising your chances of achieving the best possible outcome.

Gibbs Wright lawyers can offer advice on all options to ensure an effective resolution. Call us for no-obligation, confidential consultation.

What can a lease disputes lawyer do?

A business and commercial lease disputes lawyer can offer advice and document preparation in matters such as:
• dealing with lease breaches;
• assigning a lease;
• terminating a lease;
• renewing a lease;
• removing a tenant and recovering possessions; and
• gaining approvals.

These are only some of the services a lease disputes lawyer can help with. Discuss your matter with us directly to see how we can help you.

Will I need to go to court?

Court proceedings can be costly, time consuming and stressful, so lawyers at Gibbs Wright will always attempt to negotiate a resolution before recommending your matter be litigated in a court.

What is the Gibbs Wright process?

At Gibbs Wright, we work closely with you to determine the best plan for your particular circumstances, considering your finances and your expectations.

We will walk you through the steps of the journey, which begins with a free initial discussion to assess the strength of your case and your legal options.

We will request key documents such as contracts, invoices, financial statements or letters of demand to assess this.

If we determine we can help you, we can provide an estimate of fees, depending on the expected cost and complexity of the matter.

Where can we help you?

We are well versed in lease disputes, and we have an office conveniently located in Brisbane, but we can assist Australia wide. So, if you’re looking for a lease dispute lawyer anywhere in Australia, call us today to let us handle your matter.

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