Leaseholders face lift repair bills in East End—even living on ground floor

THOUSANDS of families living in ground-floor council flats which are except from lift and entry-phone repair costs in London’s East End may soon have to foot the bill for any future breakdowns.

Even pensioners could be slapped with charges of up to �10,000 a time because of a Tower Hamlets council ‘change of policy’.

But the change agreed by Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s cabinet is now being challenged by Opposition Labour councillors.

Marc Francis is calling on the council’s Scrutiny committee next Monday to throw out the switch and demand the mayor thinks again.

“These families could face major bills for any repairs up to �10,000 on top of service charge rises of �200 a year,” Cllr Francis told the East London Advertiser.

“Most tenants who bought their flats under the ‘Right to Buy’ in the 1980s are ‘asset rich’—but cash poor.

“They shouldn’t have to pay for services they are never going to use.”

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At least 2,000 council leaseholders are affected. But he fears thousands more could be dragged into the ‘cash net’ if social landlords who run many of the East End’s former council estates follow the Mayor’s lead.

The repair bills would be on top of the ‘service’ fees up to �1,000 a year that drop on leaseholders’ doormats.

Cllr Francis added: “We all know the Government has savagely cut Tower Hamlets’ funding.

“But money is also tight for the leaseholders. It is only right there is a full debate before any charges.”

The Town Hall authorised an independent audit of service charges in 2009. The auditors’ report was ready last year, but was delayed by council and mayor elections.

Critics want the mayor to halt the policy change until the audit report is finally published and consultations go ahead with leaseholders.