Council offers to buy back flats from leaseholders facing a £2m bill for structural work

Brewster and Malting House are in Limehouse. Picture: Google

Brewster and Malting House are in Limehouse. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Leaseholders who face paying up to £77,000 each to protect their homes from collapse can sell their flats back to the council if they can’t cover the cost.

Tower Hamlets Council has made the offer after residents who bought flats in the Brewster and Malting House tower blocks in Limehouse, face paying an estimated £2million to improve the "structural integrity" of their properties.

The blocks were built as council housing in the Sixties and contain 112 flats many of them now owned privately.

Some residents have said they could become homeless by the "astronomical" charges.

In total the works are estimated to cost about £9million. The leaseholders' share is £2million, with each household paying a minimum of £55,000 each.

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Leaseholders who are unable to cover the cost of the work will be given the chance to sell their property back to the council.

Those aged over 65 will have the option to put the repair charges on their property instead of paying upfront and the cost will be recovered by the council when the flat is sold.

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And younger residents will have five years to pay off the fee.

A council spokesman said the project team would be on hand to talk about the repairs and repayment plans for leaseholders over the next few months.

"We recognise the likely costs involved are significant and that this is a worrying and stressful situation for those involved.

"We are arranging to speak to all leaseholders individually in the coming weeks ahead of a residents' meeting later this month. We want to understand the views of all concerned before making a final decision on how to proceed.

"During those discussions we will be outline a series of new repayment options for major works that have already been approved by the council's cabinet."

Non-aluminium cladding was replaced after failing fire safety tests last year.

The costs of the cladding removal was covered by council and government funding.

At the same time the council completed a structural review.

Private engineers Wilde Carter Clack found the blocks required "intrusive structural strengthening, particularly as the buildings were at risk of progressive structural collapse in the event of an explosion and possibly following an extremely intense fire, which could cause floors to buckle".

The buildings are not at risk of collapse otherwise.

The council admitted an explosion was unlikely because the towers do not contain "piped gas".

Drop in sessions for residents will be held every Thursday between 11.30am and 12.30pm at the Veterans' Club, next to the Barley Mow Tenants and Residents Association Hall.

The team can also be called during office hours on 07940 583271 or outside office hours on 020 7364 5015.

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