British diplomats are involved in a row between a London landlord and the Romanian government over almost £75,000 in outstanding rent for a former ambassadorial residence, the Times reported.
Romania has refused to pay the sum despite a High Court order in December, with officials insisting they are not liable for the last six months of the lease on the £12,000-a-month tenancy due to a “gentleman’s agreement.”
The landlord, Christopher Christos, claims the diplomats consider themselves “untouchable” because of their diplomatic immunity.
The Romanian embassy rented the property at 18 Hyde Park Street in London between April 2008 and April 2019.
Late last year it was ordered by a court to pay £73,270 in arrears after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office intervened on behalf of the landlord.
Diplomats argued that they were told by Christos they could end the tenancy six months early and that a “gentleman’s agreement” had been reached with Dan Mihalache, Romania’s ambassador to Britain.
Christos sent Mihalache an order to move out after Romania stopped paying rent in December 2018, however Mihalache stayed until the lease expired.
“They are giving me the runaround and think that because of diplomatic immunity they are untouchable,” said Christos, who bought the property in 2007 for £2.8m. “I’ve got a mortgage to pay off.”
“The ambassador of Romania in London and the owner of the property on Hyde Park Street had a gentlemen’s agreement during a meeting in June 2018 regarding the termination of the rental contract,” a spokesman for the embassy told The Times.
“Following this agreement, the owner was also notified in writing by the embassy of Romania about the termination of the contract with a grace period of three months.
“During this agreed period of three months the Romanian embassy continued to pay the rent for the respective property, as agreed with the owner. The landlord didn’t inform us about any changes in his position, so his decision to ignore the termination agreement and to claim breach of the contract came surprisingly.
“At the end of the three-month notification period, the Romanian Embassy vacated the space, the residence of the head of the mission being relocated.”