11 Legal Matters you Need to Take Care of

Setting up a pub is an exciting adventure which can be a rewarding job for those willing to put in some work. From choosing the colour scheme and furnishings for the guest bedrooms to devising a marketing plan, there are plenty of interesting things to be thinking about.

Equally, if not more, important are the various legal matters that come hand in hand with opening your own pub. To avoid falling on the wrong side of the law, we’ve compiled a list of some of the key legal issues that are worth bearing in mind before opening your pub accommodation business.

Planning permission
While you might not need to alter the layout of your premises when setting up your pub accommodation, you may still be required to apply for a change of use of your property. Whether or not you’ll need to do so depends upon a number of factors, including the number of guests that can be accommodated and whether or not you as the owner will be living in the pub.

For more information, contact your Local Planning Authority (LPA). English and Welsh residents can find this through the Planning Portal body, in Scotland through the official Scottish Government website and in Northern Ireland via the Department of the Environment.

Home insurance
You might want to contact your insurance company to tell them the absolute maximum amount of people that can stay at one time. This will need to be covered by a business insurance policy. Keep in mind that you may also need to provide your insurer with a fire certificate.

Fire regulations
A fire risk assessment is another legal procedure that must be carried out when setting up a B&B – which came into force in 2006 via the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This will enable you to flag up any hazards that could cause a fire, such as heating goods and overloaded extension power chords, and establish what measures need to be taken to reduce the risk of a fire. In the case where more than five people are employed by your pub, you must make a note of the findings of the assessment and keep them for your records.

Gas safety
Having your boiler inspected by a Gas Safe representative is extremely important if you are going to be accommodating guests in your property. We recommend arranging this prior to opening for business. Once the inspection has been completed, don’t forget to display the certificate in a place that’s clearly visible for guests to see.

Television licence
Providing televisions in guest bedrooms generally comes as standard nowadays, however it’s important to remember that a standard television licence won’t suffice. Instead, you’ll need the “hotel and mobile units television licence”. This covers up to 15 televisions and can be bought online from TV Licensing for £145.50.

Music licence
If you’re a more hands-on type of host, you might be considering mandatory karaoke nights for all guests. Or, if not, you might have noticed that a great way to create an atmosphere in the dining room while guests are eating is to have some quiet music playing in the background. If you plan on doing either, by law, you’ll need to invest in two different licences – a PRS (Performing Right Society) licence and a PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) licence.

These can be bought online and are also needed to cover any music which is played via a television or radio in individual guest bedrooms. For more information, visit the PRS and PPL websites.

DVD concierge licence
To really boost their guests’ experiences, pubs can offer a DVD lending service, which allows guests to watch films in their own room. However, you’ll need to invest in a DVD concierge licence. For further information or to download an application form, simply visit the Filmbank website.

Alcohol licence
If you’re planning on serving alcohol at your B&B, even if it’s just a complementary glass of bubbly on arrival, you will need to apply for both a personal and premise alcohol licence. Applying for these can be both costly and time-consuming, so it’s worth taking some time to consider whether this will be worthwhile in the long run.

Food safety
You probably already serve food in your pub. Nevertheless, you still need to make sure that you’re adhering to food safety legislations. You should be registered with your local Environmental Health Officer, who will arrange to visit your property to carry out an assessment.

You might even consider completing a food hygiene course, which, although not mandatory, will ensure that you are fully up to speed with the safety measures that are required when serving food.

Fairness and equality
In order to make sure that your guests feel as welcome as possible, it’s important that they are treated fairly and equally. For example, guests with disabilities should be able to enjoy the facilities of your B&B in the same way as anyone else. This may require you to make certain changes to your property, within reason – such as entry ramps, rails or handles. More information on this can be found within the Code of Practice set out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Smoking regulations
Since 2007, smoking has been forbidden in public areas. As a result, pub owners must restrict their guests from smoking in communal areas, such as corridors, lounges and dining spaces. However, when it comes to individual guest bedrooms, it is up to the owner to decide whether or not to allow their guests to smoke in their own room, as these are not classed as public spaces.

While these might seem like inconvenient barriers to actually getting down to hosting guests, plenty of them only need to be done once, or revisited every so often. And while they might seem like a headache now, you’re in for far more frustration if you get into trouble for not doing them. Plus several will make sure your property is safe should the worst happen – and you can’t argue with that!