Landlords and tenants across Victoria should take note of VCAT’s important decision handed down in July 2019 matter of Phillips v Abel  VCAT 1031. This decision is an important landmark in the shifting landscape of retail and commercial leasing in Victoria.
The introduction of new provisions into the Duties Act 2000 provides for a concessional rate of land transfer duty where there are transfers of commercial and industrial land located wholly in regional Victoria. The concession is to be gradually increased between 2019 and 2023. The new provision will be a welcome relief to those purchasing commercial property in regional Victoria.
On 30 April 2019, the Fair Work Commission varied the Real Estate Industry Award 2010 in relation to who can be engaged as Commission Only Employees.
Commercial landlords should take note of the ACCC’s recent success in obtaining substantial orders against serviced apartment provider, Servcorp Limited. Servcorp’s precedent leases and contracts were found to include “unfair terms” which meant the terms in the contracts were unenforceable. Servcorp was required to establish a compliance program and pay significant legal costs. The case shortly preceded new Treasury laws which expanded the ACCC’s investigative powers in respect of possible unfair terms in precedent leases and contracts. This case and new legislation should prompt landlords to seek expert legal advice as to their exposure to risk under existing precedent leases and contracts.