Tollington Arms landlord relieved at rent moratorium extension

Tollington Arms landlord Martin Whelan with former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell

Tollington Arms landlord Martin Whelan with former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell - Credit: The Tollington Arms

The landlord of a pub popular with Arsenal fans is relieved the rent moratorium has been extended until next year, after warning it would spark carnage at the end of this month if it came to an end.

Martin Whelan, who has run the Tollington Arms in Hornsey Road, Holloway, for 15 years, now owes more than £142,000 in rental arrears, as a result of losing £3,000 a week while he was not allowed to trade due to coronavirus lockdown.

Running the pub sited near the Emirates Stadium under Covid restrictions is not much better, and puts him £2,000 out of pocket each week.

Mr Whelan had been warned by lawyers acting for his landlord, KRNS Properties Ltd, that if he did not bring forward a proposal to pay the full outstanding rent by tomorrow (June 17), he will be summonsed to court under debt enforcement.

However, he thought lawyers would struggle to evict him at present, because of his current financial situation, and - until today - was far more worried about the end to the ban on rental evictions, which was due to be lifted on June 30.

But the government confirmed this afternoon (June 16) that the rent moratorium protecting commercial tenants from eviction for not paying rent, introduced last year in response to the pandemic, will continue until March 25, 2022.

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It was also announced that in the event of commercial negotiations between tenants being unsuccessful, tenants and landlords will enter binding arbitration.

A relieved Mr Whelan told the Gazette: "The moratorium has been extended because the government knows there's a massive problem.

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"It had to be, to be quite honest, and if not there would have been a bloodbath on our high streets - that's all the landlords were waiting for.

"The announcement shouldn't have been made two weeks prior to that, because of the amount of stress this has caused." 

Mr Whelan - who has been campaigning for the government to take action and force landlords to share the pain with tenants, is also pleased at the prospect of arbitration. 

He said: "We are awaiting the final details on whether it will be based on the Australian model, where you share the pain equally between landlord and tenant but we will have to wait to see the small print. The devil is in the detail."

A spokesperson for the KRNS Properties Ltd said: "We remain hopeful for an amicable and reasonable solution." 

Tollington Arms landlord Martin Whelan with his partner Louise and former Arsenal defender Martin Keown

Tollington Arms landlord Martin Whelan (alongside a bronze statue of himself) with his partner Louise and former Arsenal defender Martin Keown - Credit: The Tollington Arms

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