Voluntary pubs code

Understanding the voluntary pubs code

By Rachel Thompson, commercial property solicitor at Gordons LLP

- Last updated on GMT

Understanding the voluntary pubs code

Related tags: Landlord, Renting, Leasing

With three new voluntary codes of practice introduced to govern the operation of tied public houses for companies with fewer than 500 tied premises, here is the basics of what the codes cover

These three separate voluntary codes – one for leased pubs, one for tenanted pubs and one for tied pubs in Scotland – sit alongside statutory regulation of larger pub companies.

Those that sign up to the codes commit to implementing the relevant code in the best way possible, and to transparency in their dealings with tenants. So what does this commitment involve?

The codes set out minimum requirements around what a pub-owning company must provide to ensure that a tenant fully understands what they are taking on before they commit to a tenancy. 

This includes pre-entry training and provision of sufficient information to enable tenants to prepare an independent business plan including detailed terms of agreement and any purchasing obligations with the tenant. 

Attached to the codes is a precedent tenancy checklist to be completed at or prior to the final interview process – this should be signed, dated and filed by the pub-owning company to be called upon in future, if required.

Pub companies may need to review current and past lease and tenancy agreements to ensure they comply with the new codes.  The codes cover terms such as rent assessments and reviews, insurance of premises, details on additional support services provided by the pub-owning company, gaming machines at a premises, repairs, lease assignments, surrenders outside of the fixed-term period and what happens when a tenant feels that the code has not been followed. 

While the obligations on the pub owner are often advisory, it is essential that the pub-owning company keeps detailed records of compliance with their terms. Under the codes, tenants can still use the Pub Independent Rent Review Scheme for rent disputes and the Pub Independent Conciliation & Arbitration Service for other disputes – so complying with the codes, and keeping a full record of compliance, is in the interest of all concerned.

Related topics: Property law, Legislation

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