Government Proposes Changes to the Pubs Code

The government’s promise to speed up the market rent only (MRO) alternative in the pubs code has been welcomed by trade bodies.

The British Beer & Pub Association has particularly welcomed the Government’s decision to streamline the Market Rent Only (MRO) process, which both tenants and pub-owning companies called for.

It has also reiterated the strength of the leased & tenanted model and in particular the partnership between pub-owning companies and tenants.

Through the pandemic, pub-owning companies provided £285 million in reduced or cancelled rent to tenants. In the same period, they also provided additional support such as refunds on spoilt beer, COVID signage and PPE worth on average £27,000 to a pub.

A British Beer & Pub Association spokesperson, said: “We support these proposed changes to the Pubs Code, which recognise the value of the leased and tenanted model and the strong relationship between pub owning companies and their tenants.

“In particular, the streamlining of the Market Rent Only process is welcome for tenants and pub-owning businesses alike and will facilitate negotiation and agreement.

“During the pandemic leased & tenanted pubs received £285 million in reduced or cancelled rent and further additional support worth on average £27,000 per pub from pub-owning businesses.

“The partnership between tenant and pub-owning businesses provides balance, security and investment – and has secured community pubs for generations to come. Looking ahead to the launch of the next statutory review in 2022 we will again reiterate this message to ensure the Code continues to support the relationship between tenants and pub-owning companies.”

CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said:  “It is good to see that the Government is taking forward some changes to the Pubs Code that will bring tenants in England and Wales into the scope of the Code protections more swiftly and make the Market Rent Only process faster. However, the Government has missed an opportunity in not taking up Parallel Rent Assessments for prospective tied tenants.

“Sadly, the Pubs Code is not working as intended and for as long as this is allowed to continue, licensees will suffer, and consumers will suffer detriment through further price inflation and neglected pub stock. The changes that the Government is taking forward are not far reaching enough to fix this.

“With the second statutory review of the Code commencing next year, we will be pressing the Government to make fundamental reforms that will actually balance the relationship between tenants and their pub companies, as the legislation was intended to do.”