With something like 10,000 pubs closing in the past decade these empty premises are easy prey to squatters and currently the law still offers squatters protection when they are in commercial buildings.
Mintel, the marketing research organisation found that the pub closures are due to more people drinking at home, with more than 60 per cent of over-65s never going to a pub. Even 28 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds now go elsewhere.
Almost one-third of the younger age group admit to drinking more at home, and cider has overtaken lager as the drink of choice for students.
The still successful hostelries are almost all those who offer food, which is now seen as the key to survival in most parts of the pub trade. Mintel’s findings show that while only 60 per cent of Britons go to the pub for a drink, over three-quarters, 76 per cent, visit pubs to eat.
Camelot, the property security specialist, says that the owners of vacant pubs are campaigning for a change in the law to give their premises the same protection against squatters as is afforded to homes.
The industry body, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), is pushing on behalf of their pub landlords for measures introduced two years ago for residential premises to include commercial premises such as pubs.
The chief executive of BBPA, Brigid Simmonds, has said:
“We support tougher action against squatters – they can devalue pub properties and cause neighbour nuisance, often making it harder for properties to be returned to commercial use.”
Camelot offer a pro-active “Live-in Guardian” solution that they claim vastly reduces the risks of squatting for a fraction of the cost of traditional security.
While Camelot’s Guardians are in residence, they claim, the property is secured, reducing risk and eliminating any delay in response to crime and maintenance issues on site.
Live-in Guardians are not tenants but licensees: they reside in vacant commercial property, once Camelot have provided temporary basic living facilities, as a security solution and therefore require just 3 weeks’ notice before the property can be handed back for its primary use.
The service Camelot claim provides clients with the peace of mind that the property is safe, secure and retaining its value while vacant. The benefits of this arrangement claimed by Camelot include:
– Secured from squatting, theft, vandalism
– Avoids costly delays to major projects
– Allows the client time to focus on core business
– Cost effective (average saving of £70,000 per building per year)
– Free key-holding
– Escorted property access
– Low insurance premiums for occupied property
In addition, Camelot explain, commercial property owners find this is an ideal solution when they want to reduce their exposure to Empty
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), according to Camelot, approaches properties that are occupied by Guardians according to their guidelines, which state:
“The property may become used as living accommodation after basic conversion works so there is no reason why such a scheme should not succeed in reducing tax liability by getting a property banded as a dwelling or dwellings.”
Camelot says they deal with all negotiations with VOA, there’s no financial outlay involved for the owners and their fees are based on a small percentage of the Business Rates savings.