If you suffer an infestation of pests of any sort at your pub, you may wonder whether it is you or the landlord who should take responsibility for the problem.
In fact, most leases and tenancy agreements contain a clause saying that it is up to the tenant (and not the landlord) to comply with all obligations required by any Acts of Parliament (for example the Health and Safety at Work Act) in respect of the premises.
Unless the agreement says otherwise, it is therefore the responsibility of the tenant to control pests at the pub. The local authority has a duty to ensure that their district is free from rats and mice, so anyone running a pub will be expected to co-operate fully with the local authority's environmental protection officers.
If the officers find pests on your premises, you should work with them in order to address the problem.
Minor offences may be dealt with by way of a verbal or written warning. More serious offences could result in a statutory notice being served on you by the local authority and a persistent failure to respond could ultimately result in a criminal prosecution.
If the local authority did serve a statutory notice on you, and if this came to the attention of the landlord, then your landlord would have the right to serve a notice on you under section 146 of the Law of Property Act, threatening to forfeit your lease if you do not remedy the breach within the time frame set down by the local authority.
So it is clearly important to take responsibility for the problem.
Kimbells is well versed in the legal issues facing the drinks, hospitality and leisure industry, having specialised for many years in advising companies in this sector. Legal updates and commentary on topical industry issues can be found at on their website in the right hand column. Key contacts: Leo Skinner, Neil Lyon and Peter Holden.