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Former landlord's horror at massive bill after leaving pub for health reasons

PUBLISHED: 13:18 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:54 17 December 2018

The Woodman on North Walsham road, Norwich. landlord Darren Reilly.
Photo by Simon Finlay

The Woodman on North Walsham road, Norwich. landlord Darren Reilly. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

The former landlord of a Norwich pub has said he has been left feeling "devastated" by Ei Publican Partnerships after receiving an unexpected bill for almost £20,000.

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

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

The 46-year-old took the decision to leave on the advice of his doctor after suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.

But, one month after leaving the premises and being repeatedly told by his regional managers he was leaving the pub in “good order” when requesting a lease completion statement from Ei Publican Partnerships, Mr Reilly instead received a bill for £17,830 for “repairs not completed.” The former publican said the situation came after months of struggling to keep the pub running while carrying out refurbishments, looking after his health and an exit situation he likened to “a prison sentence.”

He said: “I’m absolutely disgusted with [Ei Publican Partnerships’] behaviour,

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

“I’m devastated with the whole situation, they knew I was ill.”

The former landlord said during discussions with managers regarding the handover of his lease, he was repeatedly told what a credit he had been to the pub and before he left was told to just concentrate on the building’s living accommodation.

Conceding he was expecting a small bill for repairs he said he was unable to carry out due to building’s age and structural issues Mr Reilly said: “I was thinking [the bill] might be two or three thousand pounds maximum.

“When I opened the letter, I had another panic attack.

“I’m seeking legal advice, it’s going to cost me a small fortune.”

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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