"Most organisations participating in the Governments public consultation will be looking to encourage changes of one sort or another but the so-called small family brewers have declared their indignation that they are being included in the Government proposal to treat tenants fairly at all.
Most, who knew no better, accepted the family brewers' submissions at select committees that they were already treating their tenants fairly and reasonably assumed that, other than the market rent only option, the proposals were probably already established voluntary code requirements.
So what's the big deal? Using surveyors to assess rents? Surely the brewers rents to their tenants are already assessed by chartered surveyors, if not who is doing this? Having a compliance officer? It begs the question of who has been undertaking this role in the last four years under self regulation. And, surely an annual compliance report is only a burden if there have been breaches of compliance. Assuming the brewers are as benevolent as they portray there should be no compliance breaches and the annual report will be a single sentence - no compliance breaches this year. It is barely believable that the brewers keep no records of discussions between tenants and business development managers.
Dare I say it, even most pubcos already undertake most of the measures proposed. If the brewers vociferous resentment is indicative of the fact that these measures are not already adopted good business practices then that in itself is quite an admission.
They are right when they say there are differences between leases and tenancies. Brewery tenants can be evicted perfectly legally at the end of a short term with no compensation. Also, whilst there are literally thousands of beers available in the free of tie market a brewery tenant typically only has a handful of beers they can offer for sale, sometimes pretty dull choices at that. This has to be a significant disadvantage in a market where demand for new and exciting craft beers is flourishing.
There are plenty of cases of poor behaviour by brewers that never reached the headlines and several legal cases currently running. The code's core objective was to deliver fairness and ensure a tied tenant was no worse off than if they were free-of-tie - a utopia currently enjoyed by all brewery tenants, "allegedly". Unless the brewers have been economical with the truth in their previous statements, one has to conclude they should have no problem in with a code requiring them to practice what they preach.
As even Brandon Lewis, the former pubs minister, said: 'There is no good argument as to why a tenant who is dealing with a company that own five pubs should not expect the same level of fairness as a tenant of a company with 5,000 pubs.'"