Former publican landed with massive bill gets help from a national campaigner

Former landlord of the The Woodman Darren Reilly.Photo by Simon Finlay

Former landlord of the The Woodman Darren Reilly.Photo by Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A national campaigner has stepped in to support a former Norwich publican who has been landed with an unexpected bill of almost £18,000 from Ei Publican Partnerships.

Evening News pub of the week, The Woodman on North Walsham road, Norwich.Photo by Simon Finlay

Evening News pub of the week, The Woodman on North Walsham road, Norwich.Photo by Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Darren Reilly left The Woodman pub in North Walsham Road on compassionate grounds in October last year after almost 15 years behind the bar.

But, one month after leaving the pub the 46-year-old received a bill for £17,830 for 'repairs not completed' under the schedule of dilapidations.

At the time, Mr Reilly said the large bill, which was almost £15,000 more than he had anticipated had left him feeling 'disgusted' and 'devastated.'

But, after hearing of Mr Reilly's plight, Dave Mountford, a publican, campaigner and member of The Pubs Adivisory Board, which fights for rights of landlords in tenancies with pubcos such as Ei Publican Partnerships has stepped in to help Mr Reilly.

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Contacting Ei on behalf of Mr Reilly, Mr Mountford said hoped his intervention would help reduce the 'ridiculous' charges.

'Dilapidations is rife within the industry and used to extract money from tenants at the end of their agreement.

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'The industry targets individuals who are unaware of what is right or wrong. By sending my e-mail [to Ei], I will make them aware that campaigners are supporting Darren and he is going to be getting good advice and will therefore, hopefully back off from the ridiculous charges.'

Since September, five pubs in Norwich, all owned by Ei Publican Partnerships have either changed hands, closed or faced uncertainty after experiencing problems renewing leases with the pubco an issue Mr Mountford said was not limited to the city.

'While Norwich has been hard hit, the problem is national, as the poorly implemented Pubs Code is forcing the pub owning businesses to change their business model.'

Mr Reilly said he hoped Mr Mountford's support would lead to a positive result: 'The support is fantastic, it's going to be a slow process but hopefully a positive result.

'Dave has been outstanding in his support and my solicitors and him are working together,' he said.

A spokesperson for Ei Publican Partnerships said: 'We have worked extremely closely and provided a high level of support over a number of years to our former publican at The Woodman, enabling us to reach a mutually-acceptable solution for both parties after he requested to exit the pub before the end of his lease. However, the terms of his agreement clearly set out the responsibilities relating to the redecoration of the pub's living accommodation and we were very clear about the contractual obligation of the work that needed completing before he left the site. As such, we expect the outstanding amount on the dilapidations schedule to be paid.'

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