What kind of expenses am I expected to incur when entering into a Retail Lease?

We get this question a lot and it’s a tough one to answer! Not because we can’t – it’s just difficult to answer such a general question. There is no hard and fast answer to this question as it will depend on a large number of factors. In addition to rent, there are all sorts of costs that you would have to incur when you enter into a Retail Lease. These are both ongoing or one-off. Generally however you would incur the following outgoings:

  • Rent
  • Water Rates
  • Local Council Rates
  • Land Tax
  • Electricity Rates
  • Local Council Parking Levies (if premises offer council parking)
  • Local Council Outdoor Seating License (if premises have outdoor seating)
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Glass Replacement Insurance
  • Building Administrative and Maintenance Fees(if premises is part of strata)
  • Marketing Fees (if premises is part of a larger shopping complex)

Outgoings will change depending on:

  • Floor space
  • Location
  • Value of the premises
  • Equipment on the premises
  • What you are doing

The above is a non-exhaustive list of matters. As stated there is no hard and fast answer to “what is expected” and “how much” it is expected to cost as these matters will change depending on where you want to lease. This is a matter for homework and you’ll likely get these answers once you’ve properly investigated the location of where you want to lease. But this isn’t a chicken and egg dilemma – in NSW the Retail Leases Act says that the landlord of retail premises must issue a “disclosure statement” to all potential lessees that sets out what these costs are before the lessee enters into the lease agreement.

Retail Leases can be complex – if you are entering into one, give us a call and we’ll guide you through the process and assist you with your transaction.

Small Business Tips – Leases

If you’re starting out your own business or you work from home, one of the things you may consider at some point in time is to establish a commercial presence by leasing out an office or a retail shop.

A commercial lease is different to a residential lease, so don’t assume that you can deal with it on your own! To do so would be a grave mistake. If you are in any doubt at all you should seek legal advice regarding your lease.

Retail Leases Act

The Retail Leases Act 1994 (NSW) applies to leases which are considered to be “retail shop leases”. A retail shop is defined in the act to cover any shop which is in a shopping centre or any shop which is to be used for retail purposes. There are exceptions, for example, shops which are in excess of 1,000 square metres, leases in excess of 25 years, or offices which are not in a shopping centre.

The Act also requires that all security bonds need to be deposited with the Director-General – however this does not apply to bank guarantees.


If the term of the lease, including options, exceeds three years, then it should be registered with the Department of Lands. However a lease can still be registered with the Department of Lands if its term is less than three years. Registration reinforces the tenant’s interest in the property and can avoid any conflict with other interested parties.

Common lease terms

While the Law Society has a standard lease document, its use is not mandatory. However, most leases will contain a number of terms that are common between leases. These include:

  • Duration of Lease
  • Options to Renew
  • Permitted Use
  • Rent and Rent Frequency
  • Outgoings
  • Rent Review
  • Security Deposit or Bank Guarantee
  • Insurance

Other Links

The NSW Retail Tenancy Unit may be found at:  www.retailtenancy.nsw.gov.au.