Business development · 21 July 2016

Pubs Code launch sees greater rights and protection for tied tenants

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The Pubs Code will hand rights and protection back to tied tenants

Tenants operating tied pubs in the UK will, from 21 July, have more rights and greater protection when dealing with large pub companies, as the Pubs Code comes into force.

After months of delays, around 12,000 tied pub tenants will gain rights and protection, such as increased transparency about available tied deals, fairer rent assessments and the right to move to a free-of-tie tenancy in some circumstances.

Tied tenants are currently obliged to buy beer and other beverages from landlords as part of their lease agreement. From now on, the six companies in the UK owning more than 500 tied pubs will be required to offer tenants a contract which does not compel them to do so.

It hoped the measure will improve relationships across the sector. Commenting on the announcement, business minister Margot James said: “The Pubs Code will help tied tenants get a fairer deal.

“I urge all tenants and pub companies to work with the Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA), as well as one another, to do what’s best for Britain’s pubs. I’d also like to pay tribute to the hard work of Anna Soubry to make sure we have a code that protects tenants’ rights.”

Paul Newby – the first ever PCA – will oversee the code’s implementation and arbitrate any disputes and investigations into breaches of the code. “I will work tirelessly to uphold the code and its values from day one,” Newby said.

“There are tied tenants out there that are struggling to make a living as a result of bad deals with their landlords. This goes right to the heart of why the code really matters – it’s about giving more rights to struggling tenants,” he added.

To make a referral to the PAC or to access free advice, tenants can visit the PAC website.

Former-small business minister Anna Soubry was asked in May this year to apologise for failing to implement the Pubs Code on time. Rules set out in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 stipulated that the Pubs Code must have been in place by 26 May 2016, but drafting errors caused the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) to miss the deadline and breach the legislation.

The appointment of Newby as PAC has also been derided previously. Having previously worked with the pub companies he is expected to regulate, Newby’s professional ties within the sector are seen as too strong by some small business bodies.

In a statement in May, Forum of Private Business (FPB) director Ian Cass said: “Anna Soubry and BIS owe UK publicans an apology, having failed to implement the Pubs Code properly and appointing an adjudicator who isn’t independent.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

Business development