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Elderly publican forced to squat in his own home

Dennis Murphy, Publican
Dennis Murphy outside The Sovereign

AN IRISH publican has been left squatting in his own home after being “forced” from his pub by property developers.

Publican Dennis Murphy called last orders at The Sovereign pub in Camden earlier this month, bringing to an end two decades at the venue he describes as “a community centre”.

The Cork native says he was left with no choice when property developers decided to double the pub’s rent by exploiting a legal technicality that he could not afford to challenge.

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Without a flat of his own and with nowhere else to go, the 68-year-old publican has had to squat in the building to avoid being made homeless.

Golfrate Property Management, a London-based property company, has announced it is in the process of issuing an eviction order via the courts that will remove Mr Murphy permanently from his 19-year home,

“This has been a very upsetting experience and it is very traumatic,” Mr Murphy told The Irish Post.

“Now I do not know what morning they are going to come and turf me out. These companies just buy up pubs and get the people out. And that is it.”

Mr Murphy claimed that after Mendoza, an Isle of Man-based company, bought the lease for The Sovereign last summer, he was informed in March that he would have to sign a new lease doubling his rent from £22,750 a year to around £50,000.

The news shocked the Irishman, as he believed he had signed 30-year lease in 2000.

He said he was then told that his original lease was void because of a discrepancy that meant the building was not registered correctly with the Land Registry.

“I agreed to leave, but only because I did not have the money to take them to court,” he said. “I can see what has happened to Sheila (Gavigan) in the Cock Tavern and Mary and Dave (Murphy) in the Golden Lion. They spent a lot of money and they are still in their pubs, but it is costing them a hell of a lot of money and they are still not sure where they are going.”

Mr Murphy said he had “no place to go” when he shut The Sovereign and is still squatting at the pub.

He is now trying to find a council flat with the help of Camden Council and is also speaking support from Irish charity, Irish Elderly Advice Network.

A spokesperson for Golfrate, which has been managing The Sovereign’s lease, said: “Golfrate Property Management can confirm that, on behalf of the freeholder, Mr Murphy never had a legal lease. We offered him the right in writing via lawyers to have a new legal lease at the market level of rent on a free-of-tie basis.

“He was buying out illegally and was sub-letting out the upper part illegally. He chose not to (take on a new lease). He chose to vacate on May 31.

“However, he has not vacated. He has illegally occupied the upper parts and we are now in the process of issuing an eviction order via the courts to get him out because sadly he has become a squatter.”

The spokesperson added that Golfrate intends to re-let the property as a pub once Mr Murphy has been evicted.

Speaking about his final night as The Sovereign’s landlord, Mr Murphy said: “My pub was a community hub. The customers were gutted. They said they will be scattered everywhere now.

“They are a lovely crowd. Some of the old boys would come in every day and they will have no place to go now.”

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Niall O Sullivan
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Niall O’Sullivan is a reporter at The Irish Post. You can follow him on @Niall_IrishPost on Twitter

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