Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Julian Huppert MP raises a glass to pub reform announced today

New rules unveiled by the Liberal Democrats today (Tuesday, June 3) will help pub tenants battling to pay rent or beer costs in Cambridge.

Landlords tied to large pub companies have said they are struggling to make a decent living, with more than half claiming they earn less than the minimum wage.

The Government will give tied landlords many more rights to have fair rent assessments, as well as access to an independent adjudicator, with the power to issue financial penalties against pubcos.

Julian Huppert MP, who has campaigned vigorously alongside Liberal Democrat colleagues in the Commons on this issue, and was made Cambridge and District CAMRA’s Real Ale Champion 2014, said: “Local pubs and their owners play a vital part in vibrant local communities right across the country, as well as making an important contribution to the economy. But far too many landlords feel quite rightly that their income is squeezed by big pub companies.

“So we are taking action to make sure they get a fairer deal.”

Tied tenants have to buy almost all of their beer from their owning company, and usually pay a higher price for it. This should be balanced out by subsidised rent or other benefits they may receive from their pub company, but this may not happen and rents can be too high. However, under the new code, pub landlords will benefit from fairer rent assessments.

Alistair Cook, from Cambridge & District's Campaign for Real Ale welcomed the reform saying "CAMRA has long pressed for a statutory Code of Practice and a Pubs Adjudicator to ensure that pubco tenants are more fairly treated. It is great to see that such a Code will finally be established and an Adjudicator will be appointed."

Under the reforms announced today:
  • All tied tenants will be given the power to request a rent review if they have not had one for five years.
  • For the first time, tied tenants will also have the right to review the information pub owning companies have used to decide to increase rents. This greater transparency will allow tenants to see what information their landlord has used in calculating the rent, and decide whether an increase is fair.
  • There will be additional protection for tied tenants whose pub owning company owns 500 or more tied pubs. If they cannot agree a tied rent with their pub company, these tenants will have the right to request a ‘parallel free-of-tie rent assessment’ to show whether they are worse off than their free-of-tie counterparts. Having this information will give tenants the information they need to negotiate a better, fairer deal with their pub company.
  • Tied tenants will have the right to choose whether to be tied for gaming machines.
  • Tied tenants will be able to report breaches of the code to a new independent adjudicator who will also arbitrate on rent disputes. The adjudicator will have the power to provide redress where the code has been breached. The adjudicator will also be able to launch investigations into allegations of systemic breaches of the code and to impose sanctions – including financial penalties – if it finds the code has been breached