A new Pubs Code giving tenants more rights and greater protection when dealing with large pub companies that own tied pubs has been welcomed by Lancaster landlords.
The code gives around 12,000 tenants new rights and protections such as increased transparency about the tied deals available, a fair rent assessment and the right to move to a free-of-tie tenancy in certain circumstances.
Tied tenants are obliged to buy beer and other drinks from their landlords.
All businesses owning 500 or more tied pubs in England and Wales are now covered by the new Code, which came into effect last week.
Tim Tomlinson, landlord at the White Cross and Merchants pubs in Lancaster, and chairman of PubWatch in the city, said the Pubs Code would create more of a level playing field fpr tenants, increase competition, and see new investment into pubs and pub staff.
He said: “This is good news for licensees in Lancaster.
“Although we’re not entirely sure what it will mean in the long run, it should mean that if a licensee isn’t happy with their lease agreement, they can demand better terms, and in five years time I expect to see a deal which is more or less free of tie.
“This will mean landlords can invest more into the pubs, more into their staff, and there will be more choice for customers.”
Mark Cutter, landlord at The Robert Gillow, said: “Whilst this would not have impacted on my business relationships (as the breweries I work with are too small for the code to apply to them), it is a sign that the onerous nature of beer ties has come under scrutiny.
“I have to say that, following my recent experiences with tied leases, I would be unlikely to enter in to such agreements again.
“I recently negotiated a Free of Tie lease when taking over the Apothecary, and I see it as the best move for the future.
“Being free of tie actually leads to closer relationships with breweries, and can result in greater brand loyalty than an enforced tie arrangement.”
The first ever Pubs Code Adjudicator, Paul Newby, oversees the operation of the Code and will arbitrate disputes and investigate breaches of the Code.
Tenants can visit the website of the Pubs Code Adjudicator to make a referral or to get free advice.
Mr Newby said: “I am proud to be the first ever Pubs Code Adjudicator and will work tirelessly to uphold the Code and its values from day one.
“I completely understand and appreciate that there are tied tenants out there 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 is about giving more rights to tenants who need to provide for their families and keeping thriving pubs open for local communities to enjoy.”
Ahead of the Code coming into force, Mr Newby has produced clear guidance for all parties on how to adopt the Code and what to do when disputes arise.