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Fighting huge bill from Brighton and Hove City Council with buy-out
Householders slapped with a £725,000 repair bill by council bosses have pledged to fight it – by buying their properties outright.
The notice served by Brighton and Hove City Council on those in Park Royal in Montpelier Road, Brighton, worked out at about £17,000 for every flat.
Claiming the estimated costs were inflated, about 50 leaseholders have now formed their own company to buy the freehold from the council.
Local authority bosses, who claimed the quote was verified for value for money, now have until March 15 to counter the offer.
Until then, council contractors say they must carry out some “essential” work to the blocks to meet legal responsibilities, which will have to be paid for by the residents.
Anne Thompson, the chairman of directors of 66 Montpelier Road Ltd, said they were paying the price for “years of neglect”.
She said: “We are a group of determined people who are exercising our right to purchase the freehold of Park Royal.
“Despite this, the council appears intent on bullying us into having major works done to our property against our expressed wishes.
“We believe we can manage Park Royal on behalf of ourselves and the council tenants for one third of the cost and most importantly, in the best interests of all the residents living here.”
The council’s estimated costs, which include fixing windows and roof insulation were discussed at a public meeting in December.
The latest estimate was for £645,000, which included a profit of £23,826 for contractor Mears.
But the residents said they will contest the cost through solicitors claiming the work is not urgent.
Residents have the right to buy the freehold of their block as a collective if two-thirds of the flats have been sold leasehold.
A council spokesman said: “The council is taking the enfranchisement claim seriously.
“At this stage we do not know whether it will complete and have obligations to keep the property in repair.
“We will be seeking to limit the extent of the works, until it is known whether the council remains the landlord or the leaseholders take over.”
He added the claim for enfranchisement is not unprecedented, with 12 buildings in the city previously bought by residents.
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