PCA Tenant Survey Highlights Tied Tenants’ Pub Company Concerns

Tied pub tenants have revealed differing levels of satisfaction with individual pub-owning businesses in a survey carried out for the Pubs Code Adjudicator.The survey conducted by Ipsos Mori found that tenants of the largest regulated pub company, Ei Group, expressed the greatest levels of dissatisfaction on issues ranging from the support provided by their Business Development Managers (BDMs) to the management of repairs and dilapidations. Meanwhile, almost half of Punch Pubs tenants said that they did not expect to be running their pub in five years’ time.

In contrast, tenants of Admiral Taverns showed high levels of satisfaction with the company, with more than five out of six saying they would be likely to remain with Admiral for the next five years.

Ei’s Group scores on key aspects of the relationship with the Business Development Manager were significantly lower than the average – with 61% saying they were receiving the information they need about their tenancy (compared to 72% overall); 53% were happy with the support they received on an ongoing basis (compared to 64% overall); and only 48% having confidence in the way their tenancy is handled (compared to 58% overall). Six out of ten Ei Group tenants also had concerns about how repairs and dilapidations are handled under their tenancy.

Pubs Code Adjudicator Paul Newby said: “This survey has identified some concerning variations in the way that different pub-owning businesses are viewed by their tied tenants. Some tenants clearly feel that their companies are falling short. Many of these issues are reflected in other evidence seen by my office, and the Deputy Pubs Code Adjudicator and I are actively engaged with pub-owning businesses to address the concerns of tenants.”

The Pubs Code Adjudicator and Deputy Adjudicator have in particular acted to address tenant concerns about the Market Rent Only (MRO) terms offered by pub-owning businesses. In November 2019, the PCA published statutory advice in the form of a new chapter to its Regulatory Compliance Handbook covering the steps required when preparing a MRO proposal. Crucially, pub-owning businesses must now complete a ‘MRO Compliance Record and Declaration’ when responding to a MRO Notice, and this must be certified as compliant by the company’s Code Compliance Officer. The PCA encourages tenants who request MRO to also ask their pub-owning business for a copy of the Compliance Record and Declaration alongside their MRO proposal. The Adjudicator and Deputy Adjudicator continue to encourage tenants who have been through the MRO process to share their experiences with the PCA by returning their MRO questionnaire.