The Independent London Newspaper
25th July 2014

Letters

Property developers' ‘ruthless’ rent rise forces pub landlord to take early retirement

Dennis Murphy

Dennis Murphy outside The Sovereign pub on the Regent’s Park Estate

Published: 30 May, 2013
by TOM FOOT

A LONG-serving landlord says he has been left with nowhere to go if he is evicted from the pub where he has lived and worked for 20 years.

Dennis Murphy said he was being forced into early retirement after property developers bought the head lease to The Sovereign pub, in Stanhope Street – and, according to the landlord, doubled the rents.

The 68-year-old said he was not prepared to enter into a costly legal battle to save the traditional watering hole on the Regent’s Park Estate.

He said: “People are saying we should have a proper send-off but I don’t feel like celebrating. This is not the way I thought it would end. I thought I would have a few more years left here but they have been ruthless. I cannot afford what they were asking – I’m barely surviving on what I get now.”

Mr Murphy, originally from Cork, Ireland, said his rent had gone up from £22,750 a year to around £50,000 since Mendoza, the Isle of Man-based company, bought the lease last year.

A discrepancy in his original lease documents had paved the way for the increase in rents, he said. A “pub for rent” sign was hanging outside the door when the New Journal dropped in.

The approach taken by developers at The Sovereign mirrors the approach made at The Cock Tavern in Somers Town and The Golden Lion in Camden Town. Landlords at those community pubs have entered into expensive legal battles to preserve their trade. 

Mr Murphy said: “I can’t afford to take it to the lawyers. Sheila at the Cock and Dave at the Lion have spent huge amounts of money. I don’t see what we can do about this. 

“What I would say is to advise all landlords to make sure their leases are properly in order because if they are not they can get you like that.”

He added: “I don’t know where I will go. I don’t have anywhere else. It’s sad for the people here because I don’t know where they will go – there’s no ordinary pubs left, only young and trendy bars left round here.”

He said he would be selling the fittings and furnishings. The pub’s walls are decorated with trophies from thriving pool, football and cribbage leagues.

Property developers Golfrate, who have been managing the takeover, said they could not comment at this stage.

Comments

The Sovereign Pub & Dennis Murphy

I have known Dennis Murphy for over 23 years. He is one of the most honest, sincere and genuine people I have ever met. I am absolutely shocked though not surprised by the treatment he has received from the lease holders.
This practice has been going on for over 20 years now, and some of the most famous Irish pubs from Euston Station to Chalk Farm have all fallen into the hands of greedy developers. Pubs such as the Jolly Gardeners, The Beatrice, The Brighton Arms etc. have all been victims. It seems that there is no longer any room on the High Streets for traditional community pubs. Such a shame, and Dennis is right in saying that his customers who are also his friends will be like fish out of water. The Sovereign was a pub where locals met and socialised. For some it was their only contact with the outside world as many are retired.
On my visits to London from Ireland I always looked forward to calling in on Dennis to have a chat and a game of pool. Simple pleasures but most enjoyable. Tony Flynn. Limerick.

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