Beat The Retail Leasing Blues

Problems arising between retail tenants and landlords are becoming increasingly commonplace. The following are some suggestions from the NSW Retail Tenancy Unit on what to do if you have an issue.

Have You Got A Retail Tenancy Problem?

Perhaps the following suggestions will assist you resolve it.

Our experience shows that the people who are most effective in resolving their complaints have considered, carefully, both their position and the other party's position before contacting the other party.

Here are some of the positive things you can do.

1. Write down your concerns in point form and analyse each thoughtfully.

2. Always put yourself in the other party's shoes and ask yourself whether:

* you would see all or part of your problem as legitimate and meaningful or whether you would view them differently in the circumstances.

* you would be satisfied to pay for or do the thing you want if you were the one who had to pay or do those things.

3. Consider whether insisting on your rights is in your long term interests.

Ask yourself if insisting on your rights will make meeting and dealing with the other person embarrassing, difficult or impossible?

That doesn't mean that you should not insist on the other party doing something or you having your say if you have a legitimate complaint. Rather it is recommended that you consider the consequences for you, for the other party and future relationships before you act.

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4. Choose the appropriate words to express your meaning. Be careful not to unintentionally or deliberately offend the person you are speaking or writing to. Treat them the way you would like to be treated. Would you co-operate or be ready to see the other party's side if you felt threatened or insulted?

5. Consider whether the words have more than one meaning. Some frequently used phrases have two meanings especially to those whose first language is not English. Could you, by mistake, be giving the other side a different message to the one you want to convey.

6. Give the other party enough information to help them make the decision you want. Remember:

* if you assume the other side knows how you feel or knows everything about the subject it will often result in misunderstandings from the outset.

* These misunderstandings often make it very difficult to get agreement because both parties are not talking about the same thing. That situation can continue for the entire discussion.

Does the person you are dealing with or writing to have authority to make decisions about your concerns. If not, would it be better to write to someone with authority or speak to such a person. Take care not to insult the person without the authority, unintentionally, by making her/him appear unimportant.

When discussing or writing about your concerns, better results are achieved if expressions such as "demand" are replaced with words like "request".

Initial approaches are fundamentally important. They enhance the chances of successfully negotiating with "them". If your initial approach does not produce the results you expected you can re-assess the situation.

Although the Unit is unable to give you legal advice the Unit's officers will discuss the dispute with you and if possible assist you explore options and alternatives which might satisfy the other party to the dispute. Officers are often able to comment on your proposed method of negotiating with the other party or suggest other appropriate methods.

Another effective means of resolving complaints cheaply and in a timely fashion is by mediation.

Briefly the mediator will create an atmosphere where you will feel safe having your say and where you and the other party will talk and listen to each other.

Parties are able, usually, to reach an agreement, acceptable to both after exchanging views and jointly considering ways to resolve the dispute. This enables parties to leave the Mediation with a stronger working relationship.

* This article was produced by the Retail Tenancy Unit. For more information call (02) 9223 0466 or 1800 063 333 (for callers outside the Sydney metropolitan area). Alternatively check out the NSW Department of State and Regional Development's small business website www.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au

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