Anxious leaseholders came to a meeting of the Brixton Area Leaseholders Forum at Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, to voice their concern over the cost of building work.
About 40 homeowners, who had bought former Lambeth council properties, were in the audience yesterday for the AGM of the regular forum, overseen by leaseholder and chairman Linden Turvey.
Some were worried that that a five year plan to spend £370million refurbishing housing stock will leave them with crippling bills.
One resident said: “We have just had a £4,500 bill for electrical work, and my neighbour has been charged some £21,000 over eight years for just her flat.
“There are now five more years of work to be done, how much are we going to have to pay out? It seems to me we will just have endless bills. We can’t keep up with the payments,” she added.
The major works programme, part of the government’s decent homes scheme, will begin in April. Leaseholders and residents will hear from Lambeth Living next month, with more specific plans being announced in July.
Mike Edmunds, housing services manager at Lambeth Living, said people will be billed separately from their service charge, and will receive a detailed breakdown of the cost of the work.
He added: “At the moment we cannot be specific about details for the regeneration work. We will be issuing estimates and bills at a much earlier stage than before and in much more detail.”
Resident leaseholders are given the option to pay the bill, interest free, over two years, or to choose a longer period and pay interest. Those owners who sub-let their ex-council home will have to pay the bill immediately.
People at the meeting also raised concerns over “awful” service received on the customer service helpline, which has recently been outsourced to a private firm Vangent. They said calls go unanswered or operators are unable to help. Lambeth Living admitted there had been “training issues” with the switchover, saying the arrangement was only for a year.