Retail leases

NCAT can hear and decide retail lease disputes between a landlord and a tenant of a retail shop in NSW.

Retail leases cases are managed through NCAT's 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 can determine retail lease disputes up to the value of:

  • $750,000 (​where lease signed on or after 1 July 2017), or 
  • $400,000 (where lease is entered into before 1 July 2017) .

How to apply

Step 1: Attempt mediation

You are required to attempt mediation before applying to NCAT, except if you are also applying for urgent interim orders. The NSW Small Business Commissioner offers free mediation services for small businesses in NSW.

If mediation is unsuccessful, you will receive a certificate from the NSW Small Business ​Commissioner under section 68 of the Retail Leases Act 1994.

Step 2: Apply to NCAT

Download and complete an application form. Lodge your application at any NCAT Registry or with Service NSW.

If you need an urgent hearing (for example, you have been locked out by your landlord) you can apply for an interim order in addition to your application.

You must attach the section 68 certificate issued by the NSW> Small Business Commissioner to your application.


Fees are payable for retail lease applications. View our fees and charges.

Time limits

You must apply to NCAT within 3 years after the liability or obligation that is the subject of the claim arose, or after the alleged unconscionable conduct occurred.

If you apply outside of the 3 year time limit, you can request a time extension as part of your application. An extension of time request cannot be made more than 6 years after the liability or obligation that is the subject of the claim arose or after the alleged unconscionable conduct occurred. NCAT will not always agree to a request for a time extension.

What happens next

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.


Retail leases cases are generally listed for directions. 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.


NCAT hearings are less formal than court hearings. Generally, the applicant will present their case first and then the respondent will present their case.

Read the hearing preparation checklist to prepare for your hearing. 

Legal representation

Parties in a retail lease case before NCAT are entitled to legal representation without requiring leave of the Tribunal. Refer to Clause 7 Schedule 4 of the Civil and Administrative Act 2013.

Orders NCAT can make

NCAT can make a wide range of orders under the Retail Leases Act 1994 .

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
  • return of bond money.

Orders about unconscionable conduct claims under section 72AA include:

  • payment or refund of money
  • orders that no money or refund is due.

NCAT does not deal with disputes about the appointment of specialist retail valuers. These disputes are dealt with by the NSW Small Business Commissioner.

COVID-19 impacted retail leases

For information about COVID-19 impacted commercial and retail tenants visit the NSW Small Business Commissioner website


The following legislation applies to retail lease cases.


Organisations that can help

NCAT cannot provide legal advice. Find out how we can and cannot assist. Below are some organisations that can provide help or advice about your case.

Last updated:

11 Aug 2023

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