Retail leases

Consumer and Commercial Division 

A retail lease is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant for the use of a commercial premises to operate a retail shop.  NCAT deals with retail tenancy claims and unconscionable conduct claims under the Retail Leases Act 1994.

A retail tenancy claim includes disputes about the payment of money, claims for repairs, amendments to a lease, appointment of a specialist retail valuer and a number of other claims.

An unconscionable conduct claim is where you consider that the other party has caused you financial loss during a retail lease transaction by highly unethical conduct such as relying unfairly on greater bargaining power, using unfair tactics, unreasonably failing to tell you things, or acting in bad faith in some other way.

Dispute resolution process

Step 1: Attempt ​​​medi​​ation

Parties must attempt mediation with the NSW Small Business Commissioner before applying to NCAT.  Exceptions are applications for urgent inte​​​rim orders or the appointment of a specialist retail valuer. ​

If mediation is unsuccessful, you will receive a certificate from the NSW Small Business ​Commissioner under section 68 of the Retail Leases Act 1994.  You must attach this certificate to your application to NCAT.

Step 2: Apply to ​NCAT

To apply to NCAT you need to complete an application form.

   Download​​ the Retail Leases Application for Original Decision [PDF, 230kB]

You must attach the certificate issued by the NSW Small Business Co​​mmissioner.  If you do not attach this certificate to the application form, your application cannot be accepted.

Retail lease applications are listed for a directions hearing within 4 weeks.  NCAT will send you and the other party a notice of hearing with the date, time and location at which the matter will be heard. 

Urgent ap​​plications

If you require an urgent hearing (for example, you have been locked out by your landlord) you can apply to NCAT for an interim order in addition to your Application for an Original Decision.  An additional fee must also be paid.     

  Download the Retail Leases Application Form - Request for Interim Order [PDF, 230kB]​​

You will need to provide reasons why you are seeking the interim order.  NCAT will determine the request within 7 days.  NCAT must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that urgent considerations justify the making of the interim order.

If an interim order is made, it remains in force until the Application for an Original Decision is determined.  Once the request for an interim order is determined, the Application for an Original Decision will then be listed for hearing.

Step 3:​​ Attend a directions hearing

At the directions hearing, a Tribunal Member will talk to you and the other party about the best way to deal with your application.  The Member will assist you and the other party to agree on a timetable for exchanging evidence and documents which are relevant to the claim.

Step 4: Take part i​​n the hearing

NCAT hearings are less formal that court hearings.  Generally, the applicant will present their case first and then the respondent will present their case.  Learn more about going to the hearing.

Step 5: Final orders

In some cases, the Tribunal Member may be able to give you their decision and reasons at the end of the hearing.  In other instances, the Member will need time to consider the matter and give their decision at a later date.  You will receive a latter telling you of the decision that NCAT has made.​


NCAT has jurisdiction to hear and determine retail tenancy applications up to $400,000​under the Retail Leases Act 1994.

The follo​​wing time limits apply:

  • Applications about retail tenancy may not be lodged more than 3 years after the liability or obligation that is the subject of the claim arose;

  • Applications about unconscionable conduct may not be lodged more than 3 years after the alleged unconscionable conduct occurred.

  • An extension of time applies if NCAT orders that the claim may be lodged more than 3 years but no later than 6 years after the liability or obligation that is the subject of the claim arose or after the alleged unconscionable conduct occurred.        


NCAT can make a wide range of orders under the Retail Leases Act 1994 about retail lease disputes.

Orders about retail tenancy claims under section 72 include:

  • Payment of money
  • Completion of works required under a lease
  • Orders of possession of the premises
  • Declaration as to the rights, obligations and liabilities of the parties
  • Appointment of a specialist retail valuer
  • Return of bond money

Orders about unconscionable conduct claims under section 72AA include:

  • Payment of refund of money
  • Orders that no money or refund is due.

For both types of claims NCAT can also impose conditions on orders, award interest and make temporary (interim) orders if necessary.  NCAT also has additional powers in relation to specialist retail valuers under section 72, section 72A and section 72AB.


Quick links​

Retail Leases Act 1994  


Fees and charges            

How to resolve your matter            

Useful contacts

For information and assistance with retail lease matters

NSW Small B​usiness Commissioner            

LawAccess NSW            

Legal Information Access Centre