A contractual dispute over maintenance of a heritage-listed building has forced one of Adelaide’s oldest pubs to shut its doors.

Leaseholder Glen Duncan is in the throes of a court hearing over outstanding rent and unattended repairs on the beloved Duke of Brunswick.

Duncan reportedly ceased payment of rent in protest to ongoing maintenance and repair issues, which have already claimed the upstairs balcony and function room, negatively affecting trade.

He told the Herald Sun the pub had ceased trading indefinitely pending a court hearing, and he awaited safety approval before returning.

“Unfortunately, now it is in the hands of the court to decide,” he said.

Adelaide City Council is conducting negotiations with the hotel’s freehold owner, and cites its concerns as both public safety and historic significance.

“Preservation of heritage features of the building is a priority following safety resolution issues.”

Questions have now also arisen regarding the hotel’s beer garden and deck structure, which don’t appear on Council-approved plans for the property. In most jurisdictions, Council has the power to order repairs on a commercial property – on the grounds of public safety, heritage preservation or both. Works can be significant and in some cases render the premises not financially viable.

Hospitality specialist builder Protek says guardianship over the specifics of works is a contractual matter, and different areas are the responsibility of either tenant or landlord.

Tarrsha Watkins
Tarrsha Watkins

“From my experience, commercial leases leave the responsibility of maintenance and repairs in the hands of the tenant – except where the issues are structural or capital items, which should not be obligations of the tenant,” Protek director Tarrsha Watkins told PubTIC.

“For example, we have been contracted by a landlord group in WA to assist rectifying structural issues such as concrete cancer, damaged lintels and cracks in brickwork in venues. But if it were things like a damaged door or minor repairs we would deal directly with the venue management.”

The major feature of the next edition of PubTIC Magazine – out Wednesday (26 August) – talks more on the blessings and burdens of old and heritage-listed hotels around Australia.


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