The Pubs Code Adjudicator has called on pubcos refusing to waive rent to clarify how they plan to back tied tenants through the ongoing pandemic.

PCA Paul Newby and deputy Fiona Dickie called on the five companies overseen by the pubs code that have not yet cancelled rent to demonstrate how they will assist their tenants through the Covid-19 lockdown.

Of the six regulated companies, only Admiral Taverns had cancelled rent at the time of writing, with Ei Group, Greene King, Marston’s, Punch and Star Pubs & Bars opting to defer despite growing calls for them to draw a line under lockdown rent.

The PCA statement reads: “The Covid-19 emergency creates a threat to the livelihoods of tied tenants. Those tenants will need the support of their pub companies if they are to survive in their pubs and to return to profitability once the crisis has passed.

“The pubs code adjudicator and deputy adjudicator are aware that five of the six pub companies regulated under the pubs code are among those who have not yet waived any rent for tenants of their pubs. These are the largest pub companies in England and Wales – each having at least 500 tied pubs.

“The PCA has made contact with all of the regulated pub companies. We are exploring what they are doing, and what more they can do, throughout this emergency period to support their tenants. While recognising that they are all facing their own uniquely difficult challenges during this period, there is an opportunity now for them to demonstrate leadership to the wider industry and to show that they will go as far as anyone to protect each tenant and how they will do that.”

Ei and Punch said last week they would continue to suspend rent.

Commenting on the PCA probe, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chairman Nik Antona described the regulator’s intervention as “timely and encouraging”.

He said: “From the outset of the Covid-19 crisis, CAMRA has called on pub companies to do the right thing and cancel rents.

“Admiral Taverns, and other smaller pub companies, have listened to tenants and pub-goers and have cancelled rent for their tenants.

“The rest of the big six pubcos should be following Admiral’s example. Deferring rent collection simply isn’t enough – the pub industry is facing unprecedented challenges and the survival of the trade as we know it is at stake.

“Pub companies pushed for the industry standard model that rents are based on turnover. As we have consistently pointed out, this means that closed pubs should not be having any rent levied on them at this time.

“Pubcos cannot have it both ways, and Ei Group, Punch, Greene King, Star and Marstons need to follow Admiral’s example immediately and cancel rent.”

The regulator’s call for clarity follows the British Beer & Pub Association CEO Emma McClarkin’s letter outlining the collective position of its members choosing not to cancel rent.

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