Published: 20 October 2016
Q: I want to run a pub and am considering taking a lease of the premises. I wonder whether there are any licensing enquiries I should make prior to taking it on?
A: It would definitely be worth carrying out a licensing due diligence check on the premises prior to taking it on. To begin with speak to the existing tenant and ask them whether they have had any issues with any of the authorities or indeed with the residents, although be careful on what they advise as they may of course not give you the whole picture.
You need to speak to the Licensing Officer at the Local Authority to see if they are aware of any issues which have arisen in the past, for example if there has been a Review or other enforcement action. They will also be able to give you a full and up to date copy of the Premises Licence, including licensed layout plans. Also speak with the local Police Licensing Officer and Environmental Health. With the police it may be that there have been incidents of crime and disorder, noise, nuisance, or anti-social behaviour. Someone in the Environmental Health Team should also be able to advise you whether there has been any nuisance (e.g. litter) or noise complaints. A word of warning – many authorities are now requesting a Freedom of Information Act request before they will reply, and these can sometimes take several weeks.
Taking over a licensed premises always carries a degree of risk and it is advisable to engage legal representation to ensure no stone is left unturned.
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