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Consumer watchdog supports collective bargaining of landlords

By Grace Ormsby 23 April 2020 | 1 minute read

Retailers nationwide will soon be able to collectively bargain with their landlords to seek rent relief during COVID-19, it’s been revealed.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted interim authorisation to the Australian Retailers Association and current and future members to collectively negotiate with landlords in a “voluntary and temporary” context.

The authorisation will also allow retailers to share information relevant to negotiations, including in relation to requests by landlords for certain information as part of considering and negotiating support that is provided. 

ACCC chair Rod Sims said there’s a “clear public benefit in allowing retailers to work together in the negotiations with landlords as it will help those tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during this pandemic to reach a fair outcome”.

“We need to maintain strong competition in the retail sector, and supporting these businesses will help with economic recovery once the pandemic subsides,” he continued. 

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The consumer watchdog outlined that the authorisation would be both voluntary and temporary and won’t extend to include individual tenants exchanging information about the amount of their rent or any rent incentives they were previously granted. 

The proposed co-operation will purportedly have regard to the proposed mandatory Code of Conduct, which sets out the good faith leasing principles applicable between landlords and small and medium shopping centre tenants.

Mr Sims then noted that “as with all of the temporary arrangements that industries are looking to implement as a means to deal with the COVID-19 issues they are facing, we will keep under consideration when they are no longer necessary”.

The next step will see the ACCC seeking feedback on the application for final authorisation, which has been sought for a period of 12 months from the date of authorisation.

Consumer watchdog supports collective bargaining of landlords
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