// Middlesbrough Council has refused to reveal if the House of Fraser store in the area has paid rent
// Mayor Andy Preston said the store would need to start paying rent “soon”
Middlesbrough Council has reportedly refused to unveil if Mike Ashley’s House of Fraser store in the area has paid rent since the local authority purchased the site last year.
The council bought Middlesbrough’s House of Fraser building, on Linthorpe Road, in July last year for £1 million.
In April, it was revealed by ITV News that the department store had not been paying rent since the council took over the building.
Mayor Andy Preston told the outlet that the store would need to start paying rent “soon” if it chose to remain trading from the shop, The Northern Echo reported.
“The council acquired the House of Fraser building with a sitting tenant,” a Middlesbrough Council spokesperson said.
“It would not be appropriate to disclose commercial or contractual information regarding the lease particulars for this or any other council tenant.”
Ashley took ownership of the department store after Sports Direct acquired the chain.
Before it went into administration in 2018, House of Fraser had announced that it planned to close the Middlesbrough store but that was halted following the takeover.
If the store was to vacate the premises it would leave two large department stores opposite each other empty after Debenhams closed in May this year.
The mayor and councillors have spoken about their concern over the fate of the Debenhams building.