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I have a dispute about my lease or bond. What can I do?

The lease itself is the primary source of law. Whether you are a landlord (lessor) or tenant (lessee), first look to the terms of your lease to find out your obligations.

COVID-19 and leases

The NSW Government has amended the Retail Leases Act 1994 to require lessors to negotiate a rent reduction with their lessee in certain circumstances arising from the impacts of COVID-19.

For more information on these regulations, see our Commercial Leasing and COVID-19 FAQs.

The NSW Small Business Commission can assist lessees and lessors to negotiate a resolution to a dispute over a lease. Contact us to find out more.

Other issues

One of the most common types of disputes regarding a bond is the “make good” (i.e. returning the property back to its original condition) at the end of a lease. The lease should specify what is required of the lessee, but this is not always clear when you read your lease.

You can change what is required by agreement – usually this is the best way to resolve things.

For example, the lessee might say, “I know I am supposed to remove that internal partition wall, but do you think the next tenant might want it in place?” The lessor might agree if they think that their next tenant can use it.

It’s a good idea to do reports about the condition of the property at the start of the lease, as well as at the very end, once make good has been completed.

Another common claim on a bond is that the lessee is behind in rent or outgoings. The bond is also there to be used by the lessor to cover any legitimate shortfalls.

In either case, if there is a dispute, the lessor and lessee should first try to negotiate a settlement.

If an agreement can't be reached, or communication is too difficult, then our team can help with mediation. For retail lease disputes, mediation is required by law (under the Retail Leases Act 1994).

Contact us for advice on next steps.

In most cases, negotiation and mediation will resolve the dispute. However, some cases may need to go to a court or tribunal for determination and you may need to seek legal advice if the matter is of high enough value.


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