A PUB says it is in dire straits after being chased for rent by its landlord, despite not being open.

The Heart And Hand in Brighton’s North Laine needs to raise £20,000 to pay the rent as it has been unable to open throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The North Road pub, known for its feline doorman Bailey, has been shut since March 20 due to lockdown and social distancing measures.

The Argus: Bailey lounging around the Heart and Hand pub

Landlord company EI says it has been offering support in the form of trade credits and rent reductions.

However, publican Lara Read says the support does not go far enough and she is still being chased for thousands of pounds, despite the premises not being able to open.

She said: “Harvey’s Brewery cancelled the rent the first week of lockdown and EI are still charging rent on closed businesses, it’s horrible. I’ll have to pay it, somehow, I can’t breach my lease.

“We are going to have to get a bank loan and whenever we do reopen, we will be opening in debt.

“I would shut down if it wasn’t for the fact we’ve been here 32 years and I need to support my mother.

“I won’t let them throw out our business that my family has worked so hard to build.”

Parents Bert and Jo Read took over the lease at The Heart And Hand in 1988, before retiring in 2006.

The Argus:

Daughter Lara now runs the pub with her partner Tim and their now-famous pub cat Bailey.

The pub’s rent is £774.05 per week and, if it has to stay closed until September, its arrears will be approximately £20,000.

Ei Pub Partnerships (EiPP) says the Heart And Hand was given £25,000 by the Government to help with fixed costs.

Ms Read says that money is being used to survive and pay other costs associated with the pub.

EiPP also says it has given trade credits worth 50 per cent of monthly rent for the period April to June, a 75 per cent reduction in rent for the month of July and a 50 per cent reduction in rent for the month of August.

But Ms Read says beer credits make “no odds” as the pub remains closed and the rent reductions are far too small.

A fundraiser to help the popular pub has raised £5,806.

The Argus:

It states: “As you all know we are a tiny pub and opening with social distancing will not be possible.

“We would appreciate any donation no matter how small. Every single penny raised will go towards bringing the Heart And Hand back to you as soon as possible.”

An EiPP spokeswoman said: “During lockdown all rents were deferred and for those tenants struggling to make any payments from the grants received, which were given to support businesses with fixed costs including rent, payment plans are being put in place to assist them over the coming months as they begin to reopen their businesses.

“Credit has now also been given to the pub for the value of any unbroached kegs that went beyond their sell-by-date during lockdown.

“EiPP has offered support in excess of £28 million to our leased and tenanted publicans across the country as well as providing tangible re-opening support, and our team of regional managers remain on hand to discuss and help our publicans at a local level should they wish to further discuss their situation.”