The landlord of a Wiltshire pub fears he could be left “out on the street” after being ordered to pay £54,000 of disputed rent.

Alan Walters has held the lease at The Crown Inn, a Stonegate Group owned pub in Aldbourne, for 12 years but is now facing an uncertain financial future.

Mr Walters was recently hit with an order to pay £54,000 worth of rent arrears from the Covid-19 lockdown period, when the pub shut to the public.

Under the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022, he was able to apply for relief from his £62,876.62 of rent for this period through independent arbitration.

But the 75-year-old was devastated when he was offered relief of around just 12 per cent.

He was forced to pay a huge sum of £20,000 within 14 days of the arbitration decision, which he has done, and is now facing monthly payments of £1,500 for the next 23 months.

Mr Walters, who is fully up to date on his rent outside of the disputed period, fears what will happen if he can’t meet these payments on top of his current rent.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Alan Walters behind the bar of The Crown Inn

He said: “I’ve got a gun to my head and if I’m late on any payments for the next two years they can demand the whole balance and kick me out.

“I’ve got nowhere else to live, I’ve got nothing…. I will be out on the street.

“I’m a 100-hour a week working landlord with no other home to live in, and no assets except my investment in the pub for the last 12 years.

“I can only hope I survive. It will be borderline.”

The long-serving landlord says he is worried about the impact of the fees on the pub.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The Crown Inn

He added: “If we have a bad period of business, and duty rates are going up in August, we’re getting less competitive and it’s a struggle.

“The margins are getting smaller, and you can’t pass all the prices on, so I’m now living under a strain.”

Mr Walters added the arbitration process was “unfair” and feels it has not protected him from a much larger company.

A spokesperson for Stonegate Group, which waived its right to four per cent interest during negotiations, said: “An independent ruling was made through the Commercial Rent Arbitration Scheme following unsuccessful negotiations with Mr Walters regarding outstanding debt.

"The ruling has allowed for payments to be made over time.”