Check Lists for people buying Licensed Property Businesses.

By | February 1, 2018

Check Lists for people buying Businesses, especially Licensed Property, Pubs, Restaurants, Bistros, Bars, small Hotels.

This Checklist covers a large area of Taking over a Business. As no two situations are the same, only the basic position is outlined. The answers do not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law, nor do they constitute legal advice by the author. The information provided is only a snapshot: it does not create a contractual relationship nor does it form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.

One of our team wrote the first Check List for the BII, many years ago, because so many businesses struggled through lack of good all round general business tips that we all need when buying any business, individual specialists gave checklists relating to their specific sectors, none provided an all encompassing list..

With the substantial changes in legislation and market practices from that first list,  our up dated lists have up to seventy points that you need to consider or make yourselves aware of, before you buy and when you takeover a business, some are common sense when you have run a business and many are never mentioned when you express an interest in buying or taking a business.

Following discussions with two National Banks, neither had thought about giving their potential business buyers such an obvious thing as a check list to help them on their way, as a result we have expanded the lists to cover manufacturing, retail, self employed, and the Licensed  and Leisure Industry, mentioned above.

To buy a business is a step away from so-called line management and a genuine leap of faith in joining the self-employed in sharing your passion for your chosen speciality which you hope will be warmly received by your future customers.  Buying a business especially a licensed business will in all probability involve the taking-on of a leasehold or tenancy which will more than likely be fully, or part supply-tied to either a pub co or a brewery company.  There are two essential underlying features that govern the relationship between Landlord and Tenant, namely corporate policy of the Landlord and continuing corporate responsibility.

The lists also apply to Free Houses and any other Business

The first feature is the underlying reason why the pub co or brewery company is in business in the first place, namely, to make a profit.  The employees of that corporate body get no thanks whatsoever from not making their contribution to the corporate pot, with the machinery of monthly salary being driven by increased profitability with no particular regard to where that profitability comes from.  A cynical view perhaps, but borne out time and again with the recruitment of new lessees driven by the passion of their enthusiasm which, of course, is welcomed with open arms by the Landlords representative.  The devil, as they say, is always in the detail.

The second feature is on-going corporate responsibility.  Many years ago the brewery companies representatives stayed with their patch year-after-year-after-year.  They knew the people that they dealt with, their families, their problems, birthdays, likes and dislikes.  There was a continuing corporate responsibility to achieve success which was measured in the level of volume sales of the product that was made by the brewery, namely draught and bottled beer and lager.  Spin forwards to the pub co days (after the Beer Orders in 1989) and you have the complete opposite.  Pubco representatives have been noted to change up to four times a year, with no on-going responsibility to what they have left behind.  Therein lies the major problem in that the absence of on-going corporate responsibility, leaves the gate wide open to manipulation of new entrants to the pub leasehold market, to achieve a letting supported by a cloud of verbal promises – hardly any of which are ever backed up in writing.  The scene is set for the repeated tragedies of business failures, bankruptcies and general anguish from those who have been left to hang out to dry.

If you search the internet, you will come up with a huge array of business advice.  It can genuinely be called information overload with every specialist giving snippets of advice, but never being focused on the whole picture  which adds further layers of confusion.  What is needed and which we do provide, are straight forward, practical checklists of all the things to make a business work, before and after you takeover, with links to more complex issues.

They are free to be read under Check Lists.

When you are buying a business, the first point of contact is the Commercial Business Agent who, without exception, has once again the underlying corporate reason for existence which is that of making a profit, or in simple terms, ensuring the sales of the businesses that they have on their books.  Regrettably, the last thing that they would want to do is to warn off an unsuitable purchaser from a given business, or to ensure that they enter that business with their eyes firmly open.  The use of these checklists should be without exception an essential element of the process of buying a business.  This, however, is both unlikely and counter-productive to the Business Agent in ensuring a successful sale.

You would think trainers would endorse them, we have a few who share our view, but the majority feel that they are not necessary, they do introduce factors outside their courses agenda and need a lot of answers, in fact a number when asked, did not know the answers.

Should solicitors ensure that you have the basic checklist?  Most certainly, although it is outside their remit of instructions which are focused solely on legal issues of business conveyancing rather than business operation.  There is no requirement that they should assist you in the basics of running your chosen business.  The only area that has a professional crossover, is that of Accountants who should be using our checklist or another comprehensive checklist in conjunction with the essential Business Plan that must be prepared either for the Landlords authentication of the Licence of Assignment, or linked with an application for finance from a bank or financial institution.  The checklist should ensure that every possible item has been completely covered or giving access to additional information and there are no grey areas in a normal licensed/catering business.

We do try to update the information where we think it appropriate.

Please down load the Checklists if you are thinking of buying a business, seeing a solicitor, commercial agent, trainer, accountant etc. and use them to ask questions, if you don’t get the answers you need come back to us at

Buying a Pub, Restaurant or Licensed Property, Check List

an Essential Guide before you buy a Business.

Please note, access to these lists is totally free if you would like to subscribe (No Charge) on, they are free to be read for your guidance and aimed to help you get through a time of considerable pressure and demand.

This Check List has now changed to provide information for anyone that is looking to buy a business and change their life style. The original was made on the assumption that anyone taking a freehold, lease or a tenancy will have been fully briefed by their Solicitor on their responsibilities within the constraints of the lease and the lists are for guidance and assistance in the taking over of a normal licensed or catering business. However we have now decided to increase the information for potential buyers that have not consulted a solicitor

The requirements of taking over a Licensed Business are considerably more than an average Business, like a Retail Shop or small Trading  Business, the information may appear excessive, but as a Check List it is invaluable, the exceptions are very specialised Businesses where the specialist requirements may or will not be covered.

In addition always use a Lawyer specialising in Commercial Property, it can be a minefield.

1.  Advertising, check all vendors contracts and arrangements.
2.  Always go for completion at the beginning of the month, helps cash flow.
3.  Asbestos Report including old Artex Ceilings and Walls,
Check for More

4.  Auto Enrolment, Staff Pensions  Check for More
5.  Bank business accounts  READ ON
6.  Barrel is 36 gallons, not to be mistaken for a 9, 11 or 22 gallon Casks
7. Beer Cellar confirm ownership of equipment and service history
8.  Brewery Delivery time and other Delivery Days
9.  Brulines if applicable, understand the way it works. Check for More
10.  Cash and Carry Accounts, find nearest decent C&C
11.  Cash and Change for Tills and Machines
12.  Certification for all gas and electrical appliances where applicable Check for More
13.  Cellar Management, understand good cleaning methods  Check for More
14.  Charities Local
15.  Cleaning Contracts and supplies for Toilets, Kitchens, Bars etc.
16.  Close Business for at least mid-day
17.  Cold Storage Check
18.  Contract to buy Business, Signed and completion time.
19.  Contracts of Employment for Staff   Check for More
20. Deliveries on the Day
21.  Delivery Days for all suppliers and order Days

22.  Demographics
23.  Diary for all Bookings and Incidents
24.  EHO Registration and Food & Hygiene Certs, scores on the doors Read More
25.  Employment Rights Act 1996   LINK
26.  Energy Suppliers, Annual Contract
27.  Environmental Performance Certificate, Energy Efficiency Certificate (MEES), Check for More
28.  Equipment details of any outstanding rented or financed
29.  Epos Tills make sure you know how they work
30.  External Notices for Car Parks and Gardens
31.  Finance for completion
32.  Fire safety equipment contract, Risk Assessment  Check for More
33.  First Aid Boxes with Accident Books.
34.  First Aid training for Staff
35.  Fixtures and Fittings, check quality and reject damaged fittings, if damaged since exchange of contracts, ensure that you have enough to equipment to trade with, many vendors remove equipment without realising that they have been paid for by the purchaser.
36.  Gaming and music machines rental agreements.
37.  Graph to record Day to Day Takings

38.  Health and Safety Advice  LINK
39.  Heating Service Record for Boilers and any others
40.  Inland Revenue if you have staff, ensure that you are registered with all the forms
41.  Insurance, Business and property, public Liability More.
42.  Interview Staff Check for More
43.  Inventory of everything included in the Purchase of the Business
44.  Licensing and Gambling legislation, 24 hour Hot Line 0114 2600 344
45.  Licences Pub and Machines, your Solicitor should have all the details
46.  Local suppliers Accounts:- Butcher, Baker, Builders Merchant, Catering equipment, Computer Service, Dry Goods, Frozen and Fresh Food,  Gaming Machines, Garage local, Greengrocer, Ironmonger, Local Brewers, Office Equipment, Plumber, Electrician, Refrigeration Engineer, Wine Supplier.
47.  Operating schedule  Check for More
48.  Opening night free drinks and food initially.
49.  PDQ Machines for Credit Card Check for More
50.  Performing Rights and PPL Phonographic Performance, essential licences
51.  Personal Licence and designated Premises Supervisor,  Check with your Solicitor
52.  Pets, if you have any, where are they allowed.
53.  Phone Numbers of Essential Contacts
54.  Qualifications and Further Training  LINK
55.  Rates payable and dates
56.  Refuse Collection and Waste Disposal
57.  Recipes for all dishes
58.  Regulations for Disabled Compliance  Check for More
59.  Service Contracts, Rodents, Equipment, Cleaning
60.  Sky or other TV Contract and TV licences
61.  Smoking legislation signs etc. No Smoking at all.
62.  Snagging list and all queries
63.  Staff Dress Code, if appropriate
64.  Staff Job Description (Jobs Manual is worth considering)
65.  Staff paperwork Inland Revenue, hours etc., your Accountant will advise.
66.  Staff References
67.  Staff Redundancy, Details of possible redundancy commitment for existing staff  in cost, to you.  Check for More
68.  Stocktaker for wet and dry goods, do not accept out of date stock. Check for More
69.  Telephone Details
70.  Trading accounts for suppliers:-National Brewers, Gas supplies for Beer Cellar, Wines and Spirits, Services, Gas, Electricity, Oil etc., Cellar Equipment where applicable
71.  Ullage, the dregs in the bottom of the barrel Read More Schrodinger’s Pints
72. VAT Registration, check before you start trading
73.  Website and email addresses, understand using Social Media. Restaurant Design Forms Get instant Access Now

74.  Weights and measures signs and compliance  Check for More


Credit Card Machines, we have a  company Handepay, who is highly competitive and well worth checking out.

Contact:- Scott Masson for in depth info on this Handepay  LINK

Allergens have been identified as a potential catering problem Read More

Scores on the Doors an essential for all businesses involving Food Hygiene, Read More

Credit and cash Flow  More

Energy Performance Certificates and  MEES

FAQ’s  on running a Business More

Questions you need to ask the Landlord MORE

Note:- Everyone buying a commercial property, especially a lease should have a Schedule of Condition, to validate the state of condition PRIOR to the handover date. If there are outstanding wants of repair or decoration, then either the Landlord or the previous Lessee is responsible, if it is left until a later date, no action can be taken without documentary proof agreed with the Landlord or his Agent.

When buying a business, do not over estimate the level of business that you think you will achieve in the first two years, however bad or incompetent the existing vendor is. A good yardstick is 5%, if you exceed that you are doing well. Always remember available Business is finite in a catchment area, any growth is at the expense of another business and they will fight to retain it. The only real initial growth is by developing a new aspect to the available business in the area.

If you find anything that you consider should also be in the Check List, please email us at, we appreciate your input, if it will help others.

If you would like to read the latest Industry News and Corporate Activity, please click on the following link, before 9.00 am for yesterdays News, click on the link after 9.00 am for latest Weekday’s News.

If you would like another link to Leisure Industry news, please click on the following Link gives current day’s news from 8am.

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