The State Government is planning to better protect small businesses which lease premises for retail purposes.
Small Business Minister Gordon Hill said amendments to the Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act were now being drafted, and would include fines up to $50,000 for breaches of the Act.
The Act regulates leasing arrangements between landlords and retail tenants.
Mr Hill said the State Government and the retail industry were deeply concerned about landlords who continued to flaunt the Act's current provisions.
"Many retail tenants have borne the brunt of the recent difficult economic times, and their cause has not been helped by doubtful practices by some landlords," he said.
"The proposed Act amendments are designed to ensure greater compliance and an adherence to fairness in leasing arrangements."
Mr Hill said due to the complex nature of the amendments, and the Government's commitment to passing major legislation arising from the Royal Commission during this session, the Bill would not be ready for tabling in Parliament until next year.
As well as fines for breaches of the Act, the proposed amendments include:
· a revised disclosure statement to alert prospective tenants to the content of lease provisions;
· an emphasis on the determination of a realistic market rent, including a provision for market rent decreases as well as increases in lease agreements;
· an increase in the ambit of the Act to include drycleaners, hairdressers, beauty therapists, shoe repairers and video shops, which are presently not covered where they are located outside shopping centres;
· a provision which would stop landlords from being able to pass on land tax charges directly to the tenant;
· a provision that would make landlords directly liable for the payment of management fees.
The amended Act would be reviewed after five years.
Mr Hill said many of the proposed amendments had their origin in the full statutory review of the Act which was completed late last year.
"As part of the review process, the industry was extensively consulted - public submissions were received and discussions held with key industry groups," he said.