THE owner of a deli says the relationship between tenants and a landlord at a Worcester shopping needs to change in the wake of coronavirus.

Neighbourhood Deli in Reindeer Court has not been able to trade from the shopping centre since it was forced to close on March 23 on Government advice. However, deli owners Matt Haley and Clint Webbe say that they provide an essential service to the community just like supermarkets and other food shops. Only permitted to collect post once a week from behind the centre's locked gates, they say 'late fees' and other charges have started to stack up and want to renegotiate how much they pay in light of the crisis. They blame 'poor' communication from Fisher German which manages the centre on behalf of a separate landlord. The deli's owners say fees have mounted because Fisher chose to communicate by post rather than email or phone at a time when they did not have access to 'urgent letters'. They have refused to pay a £500 late fee.

Mr Haley says the landlord's trading name on the lease was Ravensbourne Property Holding Limited before it was changed to Reindeer Court Development Corporation Limited on March 11 this year. He added: "In the face of what is looking like one of the biggest recessions to hit the UK high street, this current landlord-tenant relationship doesn't bode well, especially for any new businesses trying to open. We only hope that people decide to keep shopping at their local independents, as cities like Worcester are full of them."

Fisher German said the tenant owed six months' rent and service charges (since paid) stretching back to 2019. They had been instructed by the landlord to appoint a debt collection agency. Opening the centre for one shop would have implications for insurance and result in additional costs to tenants, they said.