The summer of sport: could you be in breach of your lease?

By Jonathan Foulds and Catherine Davey

- Last updated on GMT

The summer of sport: could you be in breach of your lease?

Related tags: Tenants, Landlord, Lease

 Law firm Stevens & Boltons Jonathan Foulds and Catherine Davey explain how pubs can stay on the right side of the law during the bumper summer of sport

As the excitement of an impending summer of sport continues to build towards the UEFA Euro 2016, the Rio Olympics and Wimbledon, many pubs are considering running special events potentially including erecting temporary structures and extending opening hours.

There are clear positives to this for both landlords and tenants, keen to benefit from increased revenues resulting from an expected surge in footfall during this period. However, what should a landlord do if it notices event preparations at a property and has concerns? 

Firstly, landlords should check the terms of the lease for any restrictions on use and opening hours. Tenants should comply with any requirements notwithstanding any relaxation of licensing laws during these peak times.

In addition, tenants must comply with conditions attaching to any planning permission governing the use of a property. This could, for example, prohibit the erection and use of marquees, restrict customer numbers or regulate noise levels emanating from the premises. Leases usually contain provisions requiring compliance with planning legislation – so breaches will be enforceable by the landlord.

However, even if there are no specific planning restrictions, landlords should also be aware that temporary structures and activity may be permitted development for a maximum 28 days in any year, including erection and dismantling (subject to Permitted Development rights). In many areas these PD rights will have been removed by the council or excluded by a condition on the planning permission so that tenants cannot take advantage of them.

For tenants, the message is simple – if any special arrangements are proposed, check the terms of the lease, the local position on PD rights and the planning consents relating to the property first. It may be that landlord’s consent will be required for the extended or additional use.

The staffing of sporting events can also cause problems, and tenants may want to think about ensuring they have enough workers during particular events.  If the property pub is understaffed, there may be insufficient crowd control which can lead to damage of the property as well as the breach of noise pollution covenants from (hopefully happy!) fans. Health & safety liability risks need also be considered – do tenants have sufficient staff to ensure the safety of a large and boisterous crowd?

Best practice is to check your employees’ contracts as you may be entitled to require staff to work during peak periods. Otherwise, managers will have to seek their agreement. Tenants should also communicate with employees about how staff absences will be managed. To avoid opportunistic sickness absence, consider ensuring staff have access to a TV or radio and are aware of the potential implications if they fail to report for duty.

The summer of sport will surely bring highs and lows for fans up and down the country. However, landlords and tenants alike should carry out these simple checks to ensure any arrangements intended for this festival of sport do not overshadow the main event.

Related topics: Licensing law, Sport

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