Adding accommodation to your pub: legal checklist

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Premises licence Vending machine License

Adding accommodation to your pub: legal checklist
More and more operators are seeking new income streams. So, if accommodation is going to be the next big thing then what do you need to consider before going ahead?

You owe a duty to your guests to keep them safe. Lawyers often term this ‘occupiers’ liability’. You should consider your current insurance policy and speak with your insurance provider to make sure you have the appropriate cover in place for your business.

DVDs or pay per view in rooms
You will need to obtain a licence from Filmbank (for advice on the type of licence you can email and check that your premises licence covers the bedrooms and permits the ‘showing of films’. You will also need to obtain a ‘hotel and mobile units TV licence’ as your current pub TV licence will not be sufficient. Also consider your satellite TV subscription.
Other licences you need to consider include Performing Rights Society and Phonographic Performance to cover music played in bedrooms, foyers and corridors, via TVs, radios or other devices.

Hot food and hot drinks to residents after 11pm
This is not licensable provided it is restricted to residents and their guests. If you intend to install a hot food vending machine then ensure it is out of public reach, otherwise it will be licensable for use after 11pm. Provided staff do not assist in dispensing drinks then hot drinks vending machines are completely exempt, so you do not need to worry about licensing these.
Cold food and drink is not licensable, but you should check you have obtained and complied with all certificates regarding food and health & safety; for example, your food premises registration certificate. You should consider discussing the proposals with your local environmental health and food safety officers.

Alcohol for residents and 24-hour sales
Under the 1964 Licensing Act, the sale of alcohol to residents and their guests was permitted 24 hours a day.  During licensing reform in 2005 many operators who provided accommodation applied for this provision to continue.  
Check your premises licence carefully. If it does not permit sales for extended hours to residents and their guests then consider applying for a variation. The ‘sale’ occurs when the alcohol is dispensed or poured, not when it is paid for. So, the sale happens when it is dispensed behind the bar or removed from the mini bar by the resident. This must happen during the hours permitted by your licence irrespective of when the resident pays for the alcohol, which is often at check out the following day.
If your rooms are not licensed for the sale of alcohol then you cannot have mini bars. You should also check that your licence permits the sale of alcohol for consumption ‘off’ the premises, as room service, or drinks taken back to the bedrooms by your residents, will technically amount to an ‘off’ sale.
Again, it might be useful to seek guidance from your local licensing officer upon the changes you may wish to make to your licence.

If you open for breakfast before permitted hours
Your premises licence may restrict the hours that you may ‘open to the public’. Provided that you are only intending to open for breakfast to your residents and their guests then you will not need to amend the opening hours.

Prices of accommodation
These must not be misleading under the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, such that any additional charges on the prices shown for accommodation must be shown. Any misleading action or omission is an offence.

Your local planning officer should be able to guide you on the planning obligations and any planning permissions you may require for alterations to the premises, change of use, etc. You may also find that you are eligible for a brown sign with a ‘B&B’ symbol directing people from the main road to your pub.

Other important regulations and compliance
There will be food safety, fire safety (such as Fire Safety Risk Assessment — Sleeping Accommodation) and health & safety implications. Policies and manuals will need to be in place. It would be best to have these reviewed by an expert to ensure your pub-hotel is complying with current legislation.

You should contact your local council and Business Link as there may be grants available for creating jobs and providing accommodation locally.

Registering with any guides
You have jumped through all the legal hoops, received the all-important ‘yes’ to proceed with your plan and any works to the premises are complete — so, what’s next? The next stage is promotion. Last but certainly not least, it is important to make sure you take time to register your pub-hotel with any hotel/pub guides, such as the AA ratings and so forth, and any other local accommodation guides, as well as advertising in your local paper.

Related topics Licensing law

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