Coronavirus: Pub landlords in scrap lockdown rents plea

By Gwyneth Rees
BBC News

  • Published
Sue DiaperImage source, Sue Diaper
Image caption,
Sue Diaper, of the John Harvey Arms, says debt is piling up with no income

Pub landlords are calling for rents to be scrapped during the coronavirus crisis, warning they face going bust.

Thousands of free houses have had their rents deferred by pub-owning firms, but will have to pay them back later.

But organisers of the No Pub, No Rent campaign claim all rents owed during the lockdown should be completely written off.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has said it expects many pubs to close if this does not happen.

Sue Diaper, of the John Harvey Arms in Whitchurch, Bristol, says that with no income she cannot continue to pay rent and utility bills.

She is waiting for a £10,000 government grant, but says even this support will not be enough.

'Absolutely horrendous'

She said: "Things are absolutely horrendous for independent publicans. We are tenants, but are still being expected to pay our rent despite being closed.

"I am racking up debts all the time, with no income. My rent alone is £750 a week and there is no way we can survive much longer."

Stonegate, the owners of the pub, said: "The fact pubs are closed has damaged the whole sector and we remain committed to working together on a sustainable solution."

Image source, Luke Daniels
Image caption,
Landlord of Hotwells pub Bag of Nails says if lockdown goes on past May he will go bust

Luke Daniels, 48, landlord of the Bag of Nails pub in Hotwells, Bristol, pays £1,300 a month to Bristol City Council, which owns the building.

"If I was paying rent, I would go under. And if this closure lasts longer than May, I will also go under," Mr Daniels said.

'No reserves'

"Pubs simply don't have the reserves to get into debt and pay it back."

Bristol City Council's website currently says rents and service charges are suspended until 30 June for those in occupation of commercial premises.

Dave Mountford, of the No Pub, No Rent campaign said: "There are roughly 25,000 pubs in the UK owned by large companies. Many make very little margin, and once deprived of income, they fall over very quickly.

"They won't be able to pay back deferred rent, it needs to be cancelled."

Nik Antona, the national chairman of Camra, said: "Many tenant landlords already earn less than the living wage.

"The margins are tiny, so unfortunately we are expecting pubs to close."