New Clause 2 — Pubs code: market rent only option for large pub-owning businesses

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 18th November 2014.

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(1) The Pubs Code shall include a Market Rent Only Option to be provided by large pub-owning businesses in respect of their tenants and leaseholders.

(2) A Market Rent Only Option means the right of the tenant, or leaseholder, of a pub owned by a large pub-owning business, to be offered such tenancy or lease in exchange for an independently assessed market rent paid to the pub-owning business and, for the avoidance of doubt, not thereafter being bound by “a tie”, meaning an agreement meeting, in whole or in part, Condition D as defined in section 63(5) of this Act (obligation to buy from the landlord, or from a person nominated by the landlord, some or all of the alcohol to be sold at the premises).

(3) For the purposes of this section, the definition of Condition D in subsection (2) is to be interpreted to include an obligation to buy or contract for goods and services other than alcohol.

(4) For the purposes of this section, the definition of a “large pub-owning business” is a business which, for a period of at least six months in the previous financial year, was the landlord of—

(a) 500 or more pubs (of any description); and

(b) one or more tenanted or leased pub.

(5) The Pubs Code may include provisions to permit a brewery which qualifies as a large pub-owning business to continue to require that specified brands produced by that brewery (required products) are sold within its tenanted or leased pubs—provided that such tenants and leaseholders are free to purchase such required products from any supplier.

(6) The Pubs Code shall contain provisions requiring that the offer of a Market Rent Only Option to a tenant—

(a) at the point of lease, tenancy contract or other agreement renewal, or at rent review or five years from the date of the previous rent review;

(b) when the large pub-owning business gives notice of, or imposes, (whichever is the earlier) a significant increase in the price at which it supplies products, goods or services (falling under subsections (2) or (3)) to the tenant;

(c) when a large pub-owning business implements, or gives notice of, a transfer of title;

(d) when a large pub-owning business goes into administration; or

(e) upon an event outside of the tenant’s control, and unpredicted at the time of the previous rent review, that impacts significantly on the tenant’s ability to trade.

(7) The terms of an offer under subsection (5) shall include provision for a 21 day period of negotiation, commencing from the tenant giving notice of an intention to pursue a Market Rent Only Option, in which the large pub-owning business and the tenant may seek to negotiate a mutually agreeable Market Rent Only settlement.

(8) Following the negotiation period under subsection (7) there shall follow a 90 day period of assessment. In this period—

(a) an independent assessor shall be appointed with the agreement of both parties by joint private instruction and on the basis of an equal apportionment of costs; and

(b) under arrangements and criteria that the Adjudicator shall establish, such an assessor shall be—

(i) independent of both parties; and

(ii) competent by virtue of qualification and/or experience.

(c) if the business and tenant cannot agree on an appointee then a person shall be appointed, on the application of either party, under arrangements established by the Adjudicator;

(d) the appointed assessor shall then assess the market rent for the property operating as a pub with no “tie” as defined in subsection (2) and submit to both parties the resulting sum for such a rent; and

(e) at the time of the three month assessment period, the tenant shall have the right to pay no more than the sum determined under paragraph (d) to the pub-owning business and, if previously one party to a “tie” as defined in subsection (2), shall no longer be bound by it.

(9) The Pubs Code shall contain such measures as ensure that—

(a) the Market Rent Only Option is conducted in accordance with timing provisions and procedures, in accordance with RICS guidance, as specified in the Pubs Code; and

(b) large pub-owning businesses are prohibited from acting or discriminating against any of their tenants who choose the Market Rent Only Option.

(10) The Secretary of State shall confer on the Adjudicator functions and powers in relation to the Market Rent Only Option, that include—

(a) determining what constitutes a significant increase in price, as mentioned in subsection (6)(b) in the event of a dispute between tenant and business;

(b) adjudicating in disputes concerning the process or outcome of the market rent assessment; including the power to set the market rent if the Adjudicator deems the process or decision to have been flawed; and

(c) receiving, investigating and adjudicating in relation to complaints made under subsection (9)(b).

(11) The Secretary of State shall make provisions for the implementation of the following measures in this section by regulations amending the Pubs Code. Such regulations shall be made under negative resolution procedure. The Secretary of State may make provisions changing the types of agreement that fall under subsection (2) by regulations. Such regulations shall be made under negative resolution procedure.”—(Greg Mulholland.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided:

Ayes 284, Noes 269.

Division number 82

See full list of votes (From The Public Whip)

Aye

No

Question accordingly agreed to.

New clause 2 read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 18 November).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).