Coronavirus: pressure mounts on pubcos to cancel rent

PRESSURE is mounting on pub companies to waive rent for the duration their pubs are shut due to COVID-19, as a pro-pub campaign group vows to “name and shame” companies continuing to charge their tenants and lessees rent.

The British Pub Confederation, which includes a number of trade group members including the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, has called on all pubcos to cancel rent during what the group’s chair, Greg Mulholland, called “the toughest time in history”.

“The British Pub Confederation will name and shame all companies who refuse to cancel rent during the closure as well as praising the pub owners who are helping their tenants through this crisis by doing so,” said Mulholland.

“We support the #NoPubNoRent campaign and are calling on all pub owners who rent pubs to do the right thing and support licensees during this crisis which means cancelling rent. If they do not, they will create hardship for thousands of publicans and will be directly responsible for the failure of many pubs.”

Companies operating in Scotland which have secured a place in the group’s ‘hall of fame’ include Caledonian Heritable and Admiral Taverns, both of which have cancelled rent.

The British Pub Confederation message was echoed by consumer group CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), which is encouraging its members to email pub companies and request that they cancel rent. A template email is available on the group’s website.

National director Ben Wilkinson said: “When all this is over, lots of us are looking forward to getting to the pub for a pint with friends and family. As CAMRA members, we stand ready to support our locals once again – but we need to make sure that pubs survive this crisis, so they can re-open and thrive in the months and years ahead.

“That’s why thousands of our members will be making their voices heard to pub company bosses who haven’t yet done the right thing and cancelled rent payments for pub tenants.

“With publicans still being charged rent despite being forced to stay closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, we fear for the future of many pubs and for the livelihoods of those tenants affected.”

Responses to the coronavirus pandemic from pub companies has been varied, with several firms reducing or deferring rent.

In England the Pubs Code Adjudicator, the body responsible for enforcing the statutory Pubs Code in England and Wales, has called on pub companies which are not currently waiving rent to outline the support they are offering tenants.

However, the PCA does not govern leased and tenanted pubs in Scotland, where there is no statutory pubs code in place.