Landlord of Tollington Arms - popular with Arsenal fans - faces eviction
- Credit: The Tollington Arms
The landlord of a pub popular with Arsenal fans, threatened with eviction, is urging the government to intervene before he is made homeless.
Martin Whelan, who has run the Tollington Arms in Hornsey Road, Holloway for 15 years, owes more than £130,000 in rental arrears which built up since the first coronavirus lockdown last March, while he was not allowed to trade.
The bar’s freeholder KRNS Properties Ltd has instructed lawyers, Knights Plc, to threaten eviction proceedings if the debt is not paid by Saturday or a "reasonable payment plan" agreed.
Mr Whelan, who lives with his partner Louise above the pub near the Emirates Stadium, says he simply cannot afford their demands.
He has obtained over 10,000 signatures on a petition he launched, calling on the government to take action to ensure the government, landlords, banks and tenants all "share the pain" and split losses equally.
Mr Whelan pointed out that KRNS is owned by the family of multi-millionaire Kailash Chander ‘KC’ Suri, whose cinema chain Reel Cinemas has been awarded £1.5m from the government's culture recovery fund for its 13 multiplexes.
He accused KRNS of "ignoring government advice, the legally binding rental moratorium and decent human compassion during one of the toughest years in the last century".
"We've already paid them over £20,000 in rent," said Mr Whelan, whose turnover dropped to £36,000 this year, compared to £806,000 the year before.
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"It's heart-breaking. Because I'm a director of my company I can't claim furlough."
He warned: "Without immediate intervention the government will soon find itself with a massive increase of business closures, unemployment and homelessness."
But Louise Smith from Knights Plc said less than 10 per cent of the arrears had been paid.
"Mr Whelan does also live at the property in question and ultimately what he has paid to our client is significantly less than what he would be paying if he was in comparable private residential accommodation in London," she said.
"Businesses have been offered crisis support packages from the government with a number of different financial incentives, grants and loans being offered.
"Therefore, we see no reason why Mr Whelan cannot offer a reasonable payment plan in the circumstances."