PCA Responds To Pub Company Compliance Reports

BarPeopleThe Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA) has identified a number of concerns in the first compliance reports submitted by pub companies which, they say are now being followed up.

The reports, an annual requirement under regulation 43 of the Pubs Code, contain detailed and accurate accounts relating to how pub companies are complying with the Pubs Code and cover areas such as Market Rent Only (MRO) procedures, Pubs Code breaches and other Code-related matters.

The PCA’s initial analysis of the compliance reports has highlighted three areas of concern that are being pursued with individual pub companies:

  • the small number of MRO tenancies that have been agreed.
  • the high numbers of tied tenancies that have been subject to forfeiture, surrender or abandonment.
  • the use of notices under section 25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to oppose the renewal of tied tenancies on the existing terms.

Renewal of tied tenancies on the existing terms.

The PCA has also written to each pub company and will be pursuing the issues at the next round of bilateral meetings held with each company’s CEO scheduled for October.

Further information about the compliance reports and the PCA’s initial response can be read at www.gov.uk/pca.

As outlined in June’s bulletin, the PCA is keen to gather tied pub tenants’ experiences of how the MRO procedure is being implemented in practice and whether tenants feel that they have a genuine choice in deciding whether staying tied or going free of tie is best for them. The PCA has therefore asked pub companies to send a questionnaire to all tenants who have received a MRO proposal since the Pubs Code came into force.

Pub companies will be issuing this questionnaire on the PCA’s behalf from September. The PCA is also strongly encouraging tenants who receive a questionnaire to complete it. Tenants will also be able to complete the questionnaire online from September at www.gov.uk/pca.

Pub company MRO data now published

Following a request by the PCA, monthly Market Rent Only (MRO) data from all pub companies regulated under the Pubs Code is now being published by the British Beer and Pub Association. This data provides the industry with a clearer picture of the numbers of MRO Notices being served, conversion rates into MRO agreements and trends in the MRO market. The PCA also uses this data to inform any regulatory decisions in relation to ensuring tied pub tenants have access to MRO.

Tied pub tenant survey 2018

The PCA will be launching its next tied pub tenant survey in the New Year. This independent survey focuses on the views and experiences of tenants in relation to the Pubs Code and enables the PCA to track progress over time.

Last year’s survey report, including a graphic presenting some of the key findings, can be found at www.gov.uk/pca

The Forum of Private Business, welcomed the announcement by Paul Newby, the Pub Code Adjudicator, following the publication of the report, setting out that he is to put pressure on the PubCo’s to adhere more fully to the Pub Code.

Ian Cass, Chief Executive of the Forum commented, ‘We have been working closely with both Paul Newby and the Government to ensure that tied tenant landlords are treated fairly by the PubCo’s. There is clear evidence of many being either driven out of their pubs, or alternatively being forced to accept uncompetitive terms of trade. This move by the Adjudicator shows that he is serious about addressing the PubCo’s malpractice and we fully support his actions.’