A Tweed Heads seafood operator has been accused of conspiring to kill his landlord after he was locked out of his shop over unpaid rent.

A seafood shop operator in northern New South Wales has been accused of conspiring to kill his landlord.

Police allege Menniti Seafoods operator Joseph Palermo was planning the murder, having intercepted “concerning phone taps” and finding a shortened shotgun in his car.

Palermo, 36, and his co-accused Trent Daniel Habershon, 25, faced charges of conspiracy to murder in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Saturday.

Palermo was also charged over the possession of the gun that was allegedly wrapped in a towel in his car boot.

Prosecutor acting Senior Sergeant Tara Pease said police phone taps on Wednesday night revealed the men were planning to put a GPS tracking device in the landlord’s car.

A conversation between the pair at 5.20pm said: “We have no choice now. We have to go up and get the old man tonight.”

Another at 9.20pm indicated the pair were planning to do something at 3am: “It’s a better idea, it’s cleaner … we will get him on his way to work.”

Acting Sen Sgt Pease said police believed Palermo was conducting surveillance around the landlord’s home at Clayfield, in Brisbane’s north.

Palermo’s mobile had “bounced off” phone towers in the area, she said.

Police stopped the men outside the landlord’s home, and uncovered the gun along with two large zip ties, a knife, a baton and printed emails detailing the landlord’s behaviour.

Lawyer Jason Buckland, for Palermo, told the court police suspected, but couldn’t prove, his client was going to cause damage to the landlord’s property.

The conspiracy to murder charge was surprising, he said.

Mr Buckland said Palermo had operated the Tweed Heads seafood business for seven years and had invested about $500,000 in equipment before being locked out of the premises by the landlord over unpaid rent.

Palermo had filed Supreme Court proceedings seeking damages, he said.

Magistrate Jacqui Payne said Palermo was a serious risk and should remain in custody.

Mr Buckland withdrew an application for bail and Palermo was remanded in custody until the case returns to court on February 10.

Habershon made no application for bail and was remanded in custody until February 10.