Leaseholders on an estate in Peckham could face paying “record breaking” fees of over £60,000 for major works by Southwark Council.
Mathew Barber, who signed a mortgage for his flat in Ambleside Point in 1998, said he and other leaseholders were waiting for the bills to be issued.
In his meetings with council officers, having asked them whether it could £50,000 or more, he was told the total would be “in the upper bracket”.
But the authority told the News on Tuesday it did not yet have the full costs.
“I’ve been doing research into other cases of councils charging leaseholders, and I’m wondering if this could be the biggest charge ever made. We know this could be record breaking,” Mat said.
“We haven’t yet been told what the cost will be, but I’m starting to worry could it be up to £100,000?
“It’s all I think about now. This could mean me refinancing the rest of my entire life.”
The story featured on TV last week, which Mat says led to the estate being “leaflet bombed” with solicitors offering advice on “eviction threats”, making residents feel even more nervous.
The 47-year-old web editor said the hundreds of residents on the high and low-rise blocks off Ilderton Road were made aware of the works in June. Nine months have passed but they still don’t know exactly what the cost will be.
What residents have been told is that works will include demolition of the estate’s garages; new cladding; double glazing; and refurbishment of public areas.
Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Southwark’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We are very keen to start carrying out much needed works to the tower blocks on the Tustin Estate and are in the process of getting the full cost of the works from the contractor. Although we have yet to receive the final breakdown, naturally, leaseholders will be very concerned about how much they might have to pay towards their share of the costs.
“I do appreciate this is a very worrying time for leaseholders as the scale of work needed to the tower blocks is likely to result in very high bills. I would like to reassure leaseholders, that as well as already having a wide range of repayment options in place, we are putting in place additional and exceptional options for Tustin leaseholders which we hope will help go a long way to reduce the financial impact and provide peace of mind.
“When we have the full costs, I would encourage every leaseholder to meet individually with the housing team to talk through the available options and what would work best for them.”
It has also been confirmed that the low-rise blocks are earmarked for redevelopment by the council, to provide more social housing.
The residents have not been consulted on what company will be contracted to carry out the works.
“We don’t know who gets these lucrative contracts,” Mat said. “We understand that work needs to be done, but we have no say in the size of the bill. It feels like we’re cash cows. We’re worried this could end up being like the Aylesbury or the Heygate, and we all have to leave.
“But what leaseholder need to do is get there leases out and check what they are required to pay for, whether it’s upgrades or maintenance.
“I think people need to really do their research before buying a flat off the council. It seems like a good deal, and not everyone can afford to freehold a home in Clapham. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge before going into discussion with the council.”
Mat added that he doesn’t personally know any of the 20 or so leaseholders on the estate, but feels they need to come together as a single voice. He is asking leaseholders on the estate to join the www.facebook.com/tustinestateresidents and contact him.