�19000 charge may force residents out
FURIOUS residents accused a housing organisation of profiteering from misfortune after it left each leaseholder with an �19,000 repair bill, they claim, may force them from their homes. Leaseholders in Slade Court, Walm Lane, Kilburn, were left with the
FURIOUS residents accused a housing organisation of profiteering from misfortune after it left each leaseholder with an �19,000 repair bill, they claim, may force them from their homes.
Leaseholders in Slade Court, Walm Lane, Kilburn, were left with the massive bill when Brent Housing Partnership carried out essential works on their block in 2007 and 2008.
The cost, the residents say, is well in excess of anything they can afford to pay and claim they were given no choice over the extent of the repair works or the contractors used.
Many leaseholders affected are elderly residents who only have their pensions to live on. They say the bill will plunge them into debt they have little prospect of paying off. Leaseholder Edgar Francis is a sick pensioner who lives in a flat in the block with his wife.
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With few savings and no possibility of getting a job, he says there was no option but to take a loan out from BHP to foot the bill, and repay the loan out of his pension.
He will pay back over �200 a month for 10 years and end up paying over �26,000, with the real prospect that he will die in debt.
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Mr Francis said: "It will be very difficult to pay that amount of money. I am a sick man. It is very worrying. I worked all my life and I have never been in debt before. It is stressful because I fear that they are going to take my flat away, if I cannot pay."
Residents say they have received letters from BHP offering to buy the leasehold back. This move, they claim, leaves them feeling that BHP lumbered them with the bill in order to buy their properties at cut prices.
Bridget O'Keith, another Slade Court leaseholder, said: "We have all been left with big bills that we cannot afford to pay."
David Yule, who lives in Slade Court, said: "I don't know how they worked the bill out.
"No one has savings of the amount they are demanding. I don't know how I am going to pay. I am not in work. If they had carried out repairs more regularly then we wouldn't have ended up in this situation."
Residents also accuse BHP of transgressing the terms of the lease, which requires the housing organisation to carry out major repairs on the property every seven years.
Before 2007 there had been no major works for more than 15 years, they claim.
Residents say if works were carried out more frequently, or a sinking fund had been established, which residents could have contributed to yearly, this massive one-off cost could have been avoided.
A spokeswoman for BHP said: "These were high bills because the work was extensive including complete roof replacement, window replacement. All the work carried out at Slade Court was done in consultation with residents.
"The loan BHP offered residents is a discretionary loan. The interest rate is 7.2 per cent which is very competitive. BHP sent a letter - potential sell back of lease - to all leaseholders. This has nothing to do with leaseholders losing their homes. BHP carried out cyclical works to Slade Court. The major works were done when the budget became available to do so."