This latest declaration marks the continuation of two prior agreements with the regulated pub companies – Admiral Taverns, Ei Group, Greene King, Marston’s, Punch and Star Pubs & Bars – and will effectively stop the clock on a number of code deadlines that apply to tenants making arbitration referrals during an emergency period between 6 January and 31 March.
The declaration also offers safeguards to specific market-rent-only (MRO) option rights.
As previously reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA), the sector regulator signed the first such agreement in April during the first period of Covid-19 lockdown.
“The pub-owning businesses have recognised these are exceptional times and have agreed with the PCA that tenants should be given complete confidence about the status of their pubs code rights while the sector focuses on meeting the challenges of the Covid-19 emergency,” then PCA Paul Newby said of the office’s initial declaration in April.
Enforcement powers remain
The PCA has clarified that its latest announcement does not prevent a tenant from taking code steps during this period should they wish.
“These arrangements provide additional protections and expressly do not prevent any tenant from taking any available code step to access their rights should they choose to do so,” the regulator’s website explained.
“As regulator, all the PCA’s statutory enforcement powers remain. The PCA will continue to work tirelessly to promote and protect the code rights of tenants and will take further measures if these prove necessary.
“The PCA has engaged with some tenant representative groups to verify these measures. We will continue to engage with the regulated pub companies to ensure that they return to usual processes as soon as possible, and that tenants can continue to benefit from their code rights.”
The regulator's latest announcement also follows news that the Pub Governing Body (PGB) England and Wales and the Scottish Pub Governing Body have agreed to suspend rent reviews until further notice amid fresh lockdown restrictions.
Rights more important than ever
Current PCA Fiona Dickie has also penned an open letter to tied tenants to accompany her office’s latest declaration in recognition of the “bitter blow” struck by the Government’s latest lockdown restrictions.
“I am writing this letter to set out some of the important ways tenant rights in the pubs code may help at this time,” the letter, which addresses business development manager conversations, discretionary support, rent reviews and trigger events, rent assessment under the code, insurance, and protection of pubs code rights, reads.
“Your code rights may be more important now than ever and I want you to know that my office and I are here to protect them during this hugely challenging time,” it concludes.
The PCA’s letter can be read in full here.