Are There Laws That Protect Commercial Tenants?
Unlike residential tenancies, commercial business tenants are often at the mercy of the provisions of their lease, with few avenues of recourse against a landlord other than to start legal proceedings. Legislation governing commercial or retail tenancies differs significantly from place to place, and many jurisdictions do not have any laws in place to protect business tenants. Because each lease is negotiated between the parties, there are generally no statutory standard lease forms. The landlord and tenant are deemed to be on an equal footing in negotiating the lease, which is governed by contract law.
However, some jurisdictions have enacted laws that protect small business owners from unscrupulous practices by landlords. These laws also protect commercial landlords from bad tenants. Examples of commercial lease legislation include:
- Western Australia Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act 1985. This law was passed to focus on the need for transparency of information and fairness in business lease contracts.
- New Zealand's Property Law Act 2007, which governs the process of eviction of commercial tenants.
- Some business tenants in the UK may have rights of occupancy under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.
- British Columbia and Ontario are two Canadian provinces that have commercial tenancy legislation that provide legal remedies for both tenants and landlords.
Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, you can best protect your interests by (i) finding out if there are laws in effect that apply to your tenancy and (ii) determining what your legal rights and obligations are.
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