A group of 25 MPs led by Tracy Brabin has written to small business minister Paul Scully calling for a reform of the Pubs Code to protect tied tenants.
A campaign was launched on 22 March by the Forum of British Pubs (FBP), with the support of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), targeting an amendment to Regulation 7 of the Pubs Code. The regulation is aimed at protecting pub tied tenants and covers situations where there has been an unforeseen fundamental change in the trade of a pub enabling the tenant to have their rent reassessed to help it to remain viable.
Ordinarily rents are reviewed every five years, but the Regulation states that when an ‘event trigger' has occurred, the tenant can accelerate the review.
However, the Code defines an ‘event trigger' as one which "must be unlikely to impact all pubs in England and Wales", and as such large pub-owning groups are able to claim that Covid-19 should not be regarded as a trigger and can ignore requests for early rent assessments.
The campaign has called on Scully and pubs code adjudicator Fiona Dickie to support an amendment to the Code so that Regulation 7 can be invoked by an event that has the capacity to affect all pubs, such as the current pandemic.
Forum of British Pubs founder Dave Mountford said: "It is clearly in the country's interest for pubs currently impacted so badly by the Covid crisis that they may well not open again, to have the opportunity of a rent reassessment right now. But the conditions set out in Regulation 7 of the 2016 Pubs Code give the pubcos the ability to reject this. In conjunction with CAMRA we are seeking an immediate amendment to the Regulation so that Covid is regarded as a ‘trigger event' which could well save many of the 10,500 tied tenant pubs in our communities."