EHO Registration, Scores on the Doors – all food businesses must register with their local council’s Environmental Health Department. Ordinarily you will find they come to visit “new” businesses within a matter of weeks to assess the physical condition of your food premises and rate your food hygiene standard (“scores on the doors”) and your operating systems. In Wales it is now a legal obligation to display the food hygiene rating of your food business for the public to see before they enter your premises.
Top Tip – registration before taking on the pub means you can open a dialogue with Environmental Health and get an understanding of their view of the current food operation, If the existing “score on the door” is anything less than five stars you will want to find out what needs to be done to bring your pub’s score up to five, as customers are becoming more aware of this rating system and basing their choice of venue of these scores. Even though a score of less than five is still a safe food environment, public perception will naturally see customers choosing a five star operation over one with a lower rating.
Certification of Electrical Appliances etc – as part of the inventory check and general health and safety you will need to see details of when the electrical systems (the hard wiring, emergency lighting etc) was last checked/serviced. You will also need to check all appliances plugged into the electrical system have had a safety check and carry a current Portable Appliance Testing label (usually white and green).
Top Tip – I believe you are perfectly entitled to reject the purchase of any equipment that does not bear a current PAT label/certificate and you should make this clear to your valuer and the vendor.
Heating service record Boilers etc – make sure you have sight of the latest service record as it is not uncommon to inherit unsafe or sub-standard systems. The pub operator (and/or their landlord if the pub is rented) have a legal obligation to ensure regular periodic testing and servicing of the boiler. You may want to insist a service is carried out in the immediate period prior to taking over the pub so any problems can be rectified at their expense not yours.
Environmental Performance Certificate (EPC) – the pub you are buying or renting will have an EPC which will have been included in the particulars of sale/rent when you first looked at the pub. Make sure you understand what the EPC rating for your pub is and what you might do to improve its rating. An improved EPC rating will not only save you money during your tenure/ownership it will also make your pub more attractive to potential purchasers if and when you decide to move on yourself.
External Notices for Car Park and Gardens – if your pub has outside areas which the public have access to, make sure you have the relevant safety and insurance disclaimer notices posted.
Asbestos check or report – as part of your due diligence on buying or renting a pub you will have checked to see if there is any asbestos risk, make sure you get a copy of any report relating to this along with other documents relating to the purchase of the pub. If the report indicated remedial action needs to be undertaken, make sure you have these works carried out as soon as possible, better still make sure they are done by the outgoing publican (or their landlord if applicable) before you take over.
Diary for all Bookings and Incidents – part of the business you are buying may rely on private bookings for function rooms or for dining etc so ensure you get the booking diary and confirm with any bookings recorded their booking. It’s not uncommon for booking diaries to be “padded” with bogus bookings to make the business appear busier than it is and thus more attractive to potential purchasers. Make sure you get any deposits or other advance payments transferred to you by the outgoing business. Sometimes pubs will combine their Incident Book (for refusal of service to underage drinkers, slips, trips and falls, etc) with their booking diary. If the outgoing party keeps a separate Incident Book make sure you receive it on handover day.
Cleaning supplies for Toilets etc – clean toilets still rate very highly with customers in their choice of pubs, so make sure they are clean before you open (there will be lots of people coming and going during the day and normal toilet checks may not have been carried out). The last thing you want on your opening night is a complaint about dirty toilets or the lack of loo roll and soap or malfunctioning hand driers.
Contract cleaner (if applicable) – if you are inheriting or appointing your own cleaning contractors make sure they have keys (if permitted) and they will be “on call” should any emergency cleaning be required before you open. Handover days can be messy and spills and soiling does happen, better to spend a few quid on making sure the pub is spick and span before you open than get the immediate reputation for being a dirty pub. If they are contracted to deal with outside areas as well as the interior areas then ensure they carry out their duties in any car park or beer garden as “kerbside appeal” and first impressions do count with customers.