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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 November, 2004, 14:16 GMT
'My savings have been wiped out'
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners who bought ex-council flats under the right-to-buy scheme are facing massive repair bills - with housing charity Shelter predicting some could be facing ruin.

Pensioner Reg Adams has been told by the freeholder of his flat in Bromley, Kent, that he must pay up to 17,000 for repairs to the three-storey building.

Mr Adams bought his three-bedroom leasehold flat under the right-to-buy scheme in 1987 for 13,600.

Council flats
Leaseholders could face massive repair bills for ex-council flats
It was recently valued at about 165,000.

"But that's just a paper figure - I don't have 165,000," the 72-year-old said.

Such a repair bill would deplete his entire savings from his working life.

"We had been particularly careful with savings and pensions, but that would probably have been wiped out by the charges."

He and his 67-year-old wife have taken out a re-mortgage of 26,000 to cover the bill.

Broomleigh Housing Association, which owns the Alders Estate where the Adams couple live, said the bill was for major works.

Over the years the building has deteriorated to such an extent that we now have a whole gamut of repairs to have done
Reg Adams
Bromley resident

The association, a registered social landlord, bought Bromley council's housing stock in 1992.

Mr Adams main criticism is that Broomleigh had neglected the estate since then.

"This is the first major work that we've had.

'Contentious' repairs

"We've had one decoration done as the paint on the walls wasn't flame retardant, but otherwise Broomleigh have virtually neglected it."

He described two areas of "contentious" repairs that the association was carrying out.

One involved replacing insecure bay windows which were installed when the council still owned the freehold.

Mr Adams said he believed current residents would be made to pay the cost of replacement, but Broomleigh said it was pursuing the warranties from the original installer.

"Unlike many private landlords we have also chosen not to pursue payment for the... remedial works until negotiations with the local authority over a potential warranty claim for the repairs have been exhausted," Broomleigh said.

Broomleigh has undertaken regular planned and responsive repairs to the properties on the Alders estate
Broomleigh Housing Association

The installation of an entry door system is also planned.

According to Mr Adams, the system is "being put in on the basis of security, but it's not really needed."

He also said it was expensive to install and maintain and would frequently be abused by residents "wedging the door open".

However, Broomleigh said it was "requested by a large number of residents on to enhance the security and quality of their homes".

Payment plan

But Mr Adams said it was not the cost of the repairs that he mainly objected to, but the lump-sum nature of it.

"We object to the fact that over the years the building has deteriorated to such an extent that we now have a whole gamut of repairs to have done."

Broomleigh disputed Mr Adams' criticism, saying it was "very conscious of the cost" and had allowed leaseholders to pay the bill over four years.

"Broomleigh has undertaken regular planned and responsive repairs to the properties on the Alders estate.

"Our last planned cyclical repair visit was undertaken in 1996/97 and the one prior to that was undertaken by the London Borough Bromley in 1991 prior to transfer."


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