The sector body – which comprises UKHospitality, The Licensees Association, British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations (FLVA), and The Guild of Master Victuallers (GMV) – announced on 15 April that the suspension of rent review negotiations would last until 30 June unless approval is given for pubs to open sooner.
The industry conglomerate added that this will be kept under review and could be extended if pubs remain closed beyond the originally earmarked 30 June end date.
PGB chair Sir Peter Luff announced: “The PGB, in conjunction with the PGB of Scotland, has agreed with the pub companies that follow the tenanted and leased codes of practice and self-regulation that all rent review negotiations will be suspended while pubs remain closed during the coronavirus epidemic.
“This pragmatic and sensible step is in addition to any agreements individual companies have put in place for their pubs and relieves all tenants of one possible worry during the coronavirus epidemic. It runs from 16 March until at least until the end of June, by when we all hope we will have returned to more normal trading conditions.
“This quick and flexible response to the current crisis shows how voluntary regulation brings real benefits to pubs and we hope it will be welcomed.”
Pause won’t inhibit tenant and lessee rights
The PGB stressed the suspension would not cancel or undermine any legally entrenched tenant or lessee rights and that it is solely for the purpose of acknowledging the practical difficulties of maintaining the defined negotiation periods while pubs are closed and large numbers of staff are furloughed.
In addition to putting the brakes on negotiations and any tenant requests for a rent review, the PGB added the suspension removed any requirement for business development managers to respond to existing requests within 35 days and that visits for the purposes of rent assessment have been cancelled.
The move by the PBG follows the signing a joint declaration to protect tenant rights by the businesses regulated by the pubs code after they informed pubs code adjudicator (PCA) Paul Newby that they are unable to uphold duties during the Covid-19 shutdown.
These include serving compliant rent proposals, rent assessment proposals and market-rent-only (MRO) option full responses.
What’s more, as reported by The Morning Advertiser, five of the big six pub companies – Ei Group, Greene King, Marston’s, Punch and Star Pubs & Bars – have chosen to not to cancel pub rent during the shutdown as opposed to the likes of Admiral Taverns, Shepherd Neame and Fuller’s, which have elected to do so.