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Tenants call for a fairer deal with pub landlords.

Byline: Karen Dent

PUB tenants are calling for an improved code of practice to give them a fairer deal with the pub companies (Pubcos) that are their landlords.

Almost seven out of 10 tenants questioned by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) believed that the most recent code that was introduced will not improve relationships with the Pubcos.

Since 2004, allegations of inflated beer prices and high rents for tenants have been raised in Parliament. The Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee advised last year that a new code of practice was essential to improve the situation for tenants.

However, the FSB said the new code has made no difference and has instead imposed extra financial strain and responsibilities on tenants.

The new code has been designed as an agreement between the landlord and tenant but does not offer any additional security.

Half of those tenants who signed their Pubcos code mistakenly thought it was a legally binding contract for both sides, said the FSB.

Clive Davenport, the FSB's trade and industry chairman, said: "For years now, lessees of tenanted pubs have been telling us they are being crippled by both high beer prices and rent which have to be passed on to their customers to survive.

"Things looked set to improve when the revised Code of Practice was put in place. But our members have told us it isn't working.

"There are still 25 pubs closing every week. The closure of a pub does not just affect tenants and their families, but the wider community.

"Tenanted pubs are still not getting a fair deal from the Pubcos that own them - seven in 10 do not think the Code of Practice will improve anything.

The Government must fully enforce a code on the industry and ensure it is overseen by an independent body. Until then we could see the pubs at the heart of our communities disappear forever."

The FSB now wants to see the agreements turned into legislation to protect tenants. The Government has pledged to do so if there is no improvement in the relationships between the two sides by this June.

The FSB says any new code of practice should be written by an independent body and should include options for tied tenants to leave the tie, allow open market rent reviews and give tenants the opportunity to sell a guest beer.

It also wants any new code overseen by an independent body during the interim period before the law is rubber stamped.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 10, 2011
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