This is advice given from our personal experience of running and owning our own free house for a period of 3 years. It is a personal opinion only and we strongly recommend that you seek a professional’s guidance where necessary. Whilst we refer to a public house or pub throughout most of the information is still relevant to other industries catered for here [no pun intended] such as bars, clubs and restaurants.

The dream of escaping the rat race and running a pub is fantastic and for many it works out as the best thing that they ever did. For others hasty decisions and poorly thought out plans could end up in your ruination.


Have no doubts running or managing a pub is very hard work but can be both rewarding and satisfying.

You have a number of choices on how to get into the pub trade and become a landlord but first check the following:

Consider How Much you want to invest – this will determine the type of property you can afford
A free house, a pub tenancy, a leasehold property or working as a pub manager for a brewery.
Decide what you want to buy and where there is no point owning a pub in the Outer Hebrides if you really don't want to live there.
Have professional valuation public houses whether for sale or lease are valued on turnover not how big and pretty the building is.
Use this site and ask specialist property agents to add you to their mailing lists.
Undertake professional training and become certificated.

Remember a pub is a business long hours are necessary and you must be sociable, you will be welcoming strangers into the front door of your home.

The majority of pubs are owned by pub companies, who offer leasehold, tenancy or franchise opportunities.

Your choices are:

  A freehold public house is yours, you buy [usually on a mortgage] it and run it entirely as you wish you insure it and are responsible for all repairs etc. Prices are based on turnover, therefore if a pub is for sale “cheaply” ask why the turnover is so poor and ask yourself what you could do to increase trade. You will be “Free” to buy your stock where ever you like and negotiate big discounts. This opportunity is not available with other types of pub occupation.
  A franchised public house may be suitable for pub managers or people new to the industry with great people skills but little or no financial backing. Staring as low as about £8,000 - £10,000 a franchise is different to a traditional pub lease. It is most likely to be a non-repairing lease the franchising company should give you a high level of support in financial areas and procedures. They will want to see your books.

A public house lease would usually be for a period of between 10 to 20 years, and can be sold on within that period if you can find a willing buyer. It is likely to be offered on a fully repairing basis that means you are responsible for repairs and maintenance to the building if and when required.

Prices for a pub lease are based on the potential of the business. You purchase the lease and that price could be as much as buying some free houses, IN ADDITION YOU MUST PAY A RENT. As you grow the business and profit increases the landlord will be entitled to regular price reviews meaning your rent can go up. Some leases on pubs have a cooling off period, when negotiating a lease if it is not offered it is good advice to ask if a cooling off period would be available.

There will be obligations regarding stock being purchased from the landlord.


Consider this as a rental property of usually 3 or 5 years. Similar to a lease [but probably even more restrictive] you will have to buy beer and other stock from the brewery who are in effect your landlord. You will have to pay for fixtures and fittings and stock to buy the tenancy but it will be much less than a lease also the rent is reviewed regularly. Because you are tied to buying stock from the brewery [at a higher price than you can buy it from a wholesaler] you should be paying a lower rent – make sure you check your figures.

Remember usually a short-term public house tenancy cannot be sold on, so if you have invested time, money and hard work growing the trade and increasing turnover and profit you can't sell it on and make a profit.

Still fancy owning or running a public house of your own look further through this site.