In many local government authorities, compliance officers spend time dealing with applications in which a small business has signed a lease agreement before contacting staff to discuss if the premise is fit for purpose.

Unfortunately, applicants sometimes find that in order to meet regulatory requirements, they face unanticipated costs and extended approval delays to make the changes they desire to their new business premises. It can be a source of frustration for these small business owners, especially if the leasing agent hasn’t informed them about local government approval processes.

During the SBDC’s delivery of the Small Business Friendly Approvals Program, 35 per cent of participating local governments identified the need to engage with real estate professionals on this challenge, to help them guide small business clients to speak with their local government authority about desired changes at a property, before signing a lease.

Putting education in motion

As a result of the issues being raised by Approvals Program partners, the SBDC worked with the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (Consumer Protection division) to include information about this issue in the Department’s mandatory annual continuing professional development training for the real estate sector.

Compliance officers from the City of Vincent provided legislative and subject matter expertise across planning, building and health to develop the educational resource.

Tailored local information

In addition to supporting the design of the Consumer Protection training module, City of Vincent officers expanded the reform concept by tailoring information for their own local real estate agents and small businesses. As a result, two new webpages have been created on the LGA’s website:

  • Before you sign a commercial lease – This page, aimed at small business owners, provides answers to frequently asked questions including: what a lease is; whether the proposed land use is a permitted use; and which approvals/licences/permits are needed to run a business.
  • Information for real estate agents to support small business – This page provides useful information to local real estate agents to help them support their small business clients. It includes detail on how to find a property's zoning; when development approval is or isn’t required for a change of use; and how to find previous building and development approvals for a particular property.

“Starting a new business or taking over an existing one should be an exciting time focused on creating new opportunities. But navigating the planning, building and health requirements can feel like a struggle,” said City of Vincent CEO David MacLennan.

“At Vincent, we’re committed to supporting our local entrepreneurs along every step of the approvals journey.

“It was a priority for us to ensure we communicate straightforward, easy-to-understand information to both sides.

“We’ve improved our website and added new pages catered for small businesses and real estate agents.

“One of the new pages is a step-by-step approval process page which has a comprehensive roadmap that summarises the essential steps to get the approvals needed for your business.”

The introduction of easy to read and understand information on the City of Vincent website is a first across the SBDC’s Small Business Friendly network and a direct outcome of a reform need identified as part of the Approvals Program, in which the City of Vincent participated.

More information

For more information:

Small business friendly
27 July 2023