QSBC assistance for small businesses

The Queensland Small Business Commissioner (QSBC) provides information, assistance, and advocacy support to Queensland small businesses to enable and empower them to succeed.

Find out more about the QSBC.

Choose a support option below.

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Watch our series of short videos to help you do business better. These videos have been developed by industry experts and advocates to provide you with advice on a range of topics and emerging issues.

Tips from the Commissioner

Contact the Commissioner if there is a business topic you'd like us to focus on.

Read our QSBC small business help and support guide for information, support, and service options for small businesses, including topics:

  • grants, loans and rebates
  • services
  • health and wellbeing
  • employer information
  • training and skills
  • resources and tools.

To find out what COVID-19 support is available, you can search the COVID-19 business assistance finder. Read about running a business and advice and support for small businesses.

Tips from the Commissioner

Contact us for help if you can't find the support or service you need.

We provide personalised information and one-to-one assistance when responding to your enquiry. If we can't help you, we'll try to connect you with someone who can.

Contact us to make an enquiry.

If there's a broader problem affecting your small business, you can contact us about this. Depending on the subject, we may:

  • help communicate your views and experiences through the right channels
  • connect you with someone who can help
  • work to inform policy change and advocate for red-tape reduction
  • advocate on your behalf to the relevant government agency
  • work collaboratively with business groups and government on a project to address the matter.

Tips from the Commissioner

We can assist with disputes about small business leases, or about the use or occupation of the leased premises. The first step is to submit an enquiry and we will attempt to find an informal resolution to the matter.

If you seek assistance from us about a small business lease dispute, and you are still unable to reach an agreement, you may be eligible to access our mediation service.

Small business lease disputes are defined under the Small Business Commissioner Act 2022 (the SBC Act). The Commissioner considers a small business to be a business that identifies as a small business and would be reasonably considered to be small in size, regardless of structure. A retail shop lease is not considered a small business lease under the SBC Act. The approved forms we use are online forms, to seek assistance with lodging digitally you can find a local 'Be Connected' service provider. They may help with how to use technology, not the content of your application.

Depending on the subject, we may:

  • provide you with information and connect you with other services that can help you
  • work with both parties to help you reach an informal resolution
  • provide access to a mediation service to help you reach an agreement (if eligible).

Tips from the Commissioner

  • Try to resolve your leasing issue first before requesting assistance from the QSBC.
  • Learn more about how to resolve business disputes.
  • To prevent leasing issues becoming a dispute, try negotiating an agreement with your landlord first.

Submit an enquiry to request assistance with a small business lease.

The Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 (the RSL Act) sets out laws and dispute processes which apply to retail shop leases in Queensland. The RSL Act defines a retail shop lease in detail, with criteria including but not limited to:

  • premises used for retail purposes
  • is located within a retail shopping centre (where 5 or more retail shops are located)
  • has floorspace of less than 1,000sqm
  • and the lease term is greater than 6 months.

You may need to seek your own independent legal advice to determine if your lease is considered a retail shop lease under the RSL Act.

If you have an eligible retail shop lease dispute, one party may initiate an application for mediation; however, both parties must agree to share the cost of mediation equally ($175 per party). Details on the dispute and how to make the payment will be provided to both parties after the application for mediation form is submitted. If payment is not received from both parties by the due date, the lodgement will be considered incomplete and any party that has paid their fee will be refunded the full fee. The approved forms we use are online forms, to seek assistance with lodging digitally you can find a local 'Be Connected' service provider. They may help with how to use technology, not the content of your application.

Mediators cannot mediate a dispute about matters excluded in the RSL Act including: the amount of rent or outgoings payable under the lease; a dispute that is before or has been decided by a court or arbitration; or if the amount, value or damages in dispute is more than the amount specified in section 68 of the District Court of Queensland Act 1967 ($750,000).

Submitting an enquiry with us first can assist with:

  • ensuring the dispute is able to be mediated
  • preparing both parties for mediation
  • explaining the requirement to share the application fee equally.

After payment of the fees by both parties, we will nominate a mediator to work with you to try to reach an agreement. Our mediators are all accredited under the National Mediation Accreditation Standards. The mediator must refer the dispute to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), and notify us, if:

  • no agreement can be reached in writing at mediation
  • or
  • a party doesn't attend mediation
  • or
  • it's been with the mediator for 4 months
  • and
  • the lease is current (or has not expired, been surrendered, or terminated more than a year ago)
  • and
  • the dispute is within QCATs jurisdiction.

Tenants and landlords should try to resolve business disputes by working together first. The Commissioner has expectations that both parties to a retail shop lease dispute should cooperate, act reasonably and in good faith in all discussions. This can be achieved by:

  • responding to each other's requests in a reasonable way
  • being honest and providing information that is accurate
  • making a genuine attempt to reach an agreement
  • taking reasonable steps to resolve a dispute (such as attending mediation)
  • ensuring the person attending mediation has the authority to settle the matter and sign an agreement on behalf of their party to the lease.

Depending on the subject, we may:

  • provide you with information and connect you with other services that can help you
  • work with both parties to help you reach an informal resolution
  • provide access to a mediation service to help you reach an agreement (if eligible).

Tips from the Commissioner

Submit an application for mediation.

Small business lease disputes are defined under the Small Business Commissioner Act 2022 (the SBC Act). The Commissioner considers a small business to be a business that identifies as a small business and would be reasonably considered to be small in size, regardless of structure. A retail shop lease is not considered a small business lease under the SBC Act.

To be eligible to access mediation, both parties to a small business lease dispute must:

  • have sought informal assistance to resolve the dispute first. If you haven't already, request assistance from us and we will attempt to find an informal resolution to the matter.
  • agree to mediate the dispute and share the cost of mediation equally ($175 per party).

Details on how to make the payment will be provided to both parties after the application for mediation form is submitted. If payment is not received from both parties by the due date, the lodgement will be considered incomplete and any party that has paid their fee will be refunded the full fee.

Mediators cannot mediate a small business lease dispute about matters excluded in the Act including:

  • the amount of rent or outgoings payable under the lease
  • a dispute that is before or decided by a court or arbitration
  • or
  • if the amount, value or damages in dispute is more than the amount specified in section 68 of the District Court of Queensland Act 1967 ($750,000).

Making an enquiry with us first can assist with:

  • ensuring the dispute is able to be mediated
  • preparing both parties for mediation
  • explaining the requirement to share the application fee equally.

After payment of the fees by both parties, we will nominate a mediator to work with you to try to reach an agreement. Our mediators are all accredited under the National Mediation Accreditation Standards. If no agreement can be reached in writing at mediation, you may need to seek your own independent legal or financial advice as to your further options.

Tenants and landlords should try to resolve business disputes by working together first. The Commissioner has expectations that both parties to a small business lease dispute should cooperate, act reasonably and in good faith in all discussions. This can be achieved by:

  • responding to each other's requests in a reasonable way
  • being honest and providing information that is accurate
  • making a genuine attempt to reach an agreement
  • taking reasonable steps to resolve a dispute (such as attending mediation)
  • ensuring the person attending mediation has the authority to settle the matter and sign an agreement on behalf of their party to the lease.

Tips from the Commissioner

Submit an application for mediation assistance.

If your business suffered a reduction in turnover due to COVID-19, you may be able to negotiate rent relief and other conditions with your landlord.

Read about:

If your negotiation is unsuccessful and you're unable to agree on an outcome, we may be able to help you to informally resolve your dispute. We may also provide access to a mediation service to help you reach an agreement.

Tips from the Commissioner

Submit an enquiry to request assistance with an affected lease dispute.

If you have another type of small business issue, you should first attempt to resolve it yourself.

If you are unable to resolve the issue yourself, you can use the dispute assistance finder to help find the most appropriate service that can assist you. If you're still not sure, you can request assistance from us and we will help you find the best solution.

Contact us for dispute assistance.

Note: The Queensland Small Business Commissioner provides general information and guidance for small businesses in Queensland. We do not provide specific financial or legal advice. We cannot compel people to do certain things and cannot make rulings or decisions about disputes.