Regional forum takes look at retail leases

ALBURY played host yesterday to the first of four regional forums across NSW aiming to improve the Retail Leases Act 1994.

Twenty real estate agents and lawyers took part in the forum which was led by Candace Barron, who, coincidentally, was appointed as the acting NSW small business commissioner yesterday.

Ms Barron is a director in the dispute resolution unit in the commissioner’s office.

NSW Small Business Minister Katrina Hodgkinson recently released a discussion paper on the review of the act.

Ms Barron said a major failing of the current act was a lack of information to the general public.

“If you buy a house, you know what other houses sold for,” she said.

“If you rent a shop, you have no idea what your neighbours are paying and as a result people can’t make good commercial decisions for themselves.

“Information is important and simplicity is important.

“The ability to understand the document they are signing is also important.

“We want to have a place for people who don’t do it all day, every day to have a place to go.”

There are no restrictions on what can be changed as a result of the review which is a statutory occurrence every five years.

“It is one thing to have a practitioner who spends their whole life working with the legislation,” Ms Barron said.

“But you also have people who can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars for each question they have about the act.

“We want to make it more accessible.”

Ms Barron studied law at Roosevelt University in Chicago and has been the deputy registrar of retail tenancy disputes since 2003.

Her promotion to fill the position of acting small business commissioner was confirmed by Ms Hodgkinson yesterday.

She will continue in the role until a replacement is announced for the former commissioner, Yasmin King.

“The government is firmly committed to ensuring small businesses in NSW have access to a small business commissioner,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“The government is in the final stages of appointing the new commissioner.”

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