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Tied Public Houses: Statutory Review of the Pubs Code

The Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Act 2015 introduced the Pubs Code which was supposed to give tenants of pubs owned by the large pub owning businesses (those with at least 500 tied pubs) the opportunity to go free of tie.

Our factsheet A Tied Pubs and Lease Renewal Factsheet for You, set out how these regulations are supposed to work in the case of lease renewals.

We observed in our factsheet that the regulations are extremely complicated, challenging not just tenants but lawyers with considerable experience of the licensed trade and lease renewals.

We also observed that landlords were making it extremely difficult for tenants to benefit from the regulations, putting up numerous obstacles.

It seems these views are shared by tenants and the British Pub Confederation has recently observed that pub tenants and MPs have been ‘duped and betrayed’.

According to data from the British Beer & Pubs Association only 57 out of 739 applications have resulted in tenancies free of tie. 

It seems that the government has finally taken on board the concerns of the licensed trade, and the Minister for Small Businesses, Kelly Tolhurst, announced on 30 April 2019 a statutory review of the pubs code and pubs code adjudicator seeking views from interested parties.

Given the vested interests and lobbying power of the pub owning businesses, we are not particularly optimistic about either radical change to the pubs code or the speed of introduction of any changes. However, time will tell, and we will keep you informed.

Should you require any advice regarding licensing matters or landlord and tenant matters please do not hesitate to contact our Property & Commercial Department.

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