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Tenants failing to pay for home works
MORE than 100 residents in flats across Basildon could face court action after failing to contribute towards improvements to their homes.
As part of a programme of work at almost 2,000 properties across the borough, leaseholders are legally required to contribute.
The improvements, which started in 2011, include electrical work, lift refurbishments, structural repairs, new windows and lighting upgrades in communal areas of council-run blocks.
While £967,730 in invoices has been successfully paid to Basildon Council, bosses are still short of £211,850.
Of 248 leaseholders who have failed to pay up, 141 have agreed to flexible repayment options, which sees them pay off their contribution over a period of up to ten years.
The remaining 107 leaseholders have either failed to respond to letters from Basildon Council or are disputing the charges.
Twenty are already set to battle it out with council officers in county court, and the remaining leaseholders could follow if they do not pay up for the major improvements.
Phil Turner, deputy leader of Basildon Council and councillor responsible for housing, is hopeful many of the outstanding payment issues can be resolved without legal action.
He added: “It’s part of our responsibility to take tenants through the cost of the works and the need for the improvements. I think if we can explain we can take leaseholders along with us, you wouldn’t pay a bill without knowing what it’s for.
“There is a different between can’t pay and won’t pay and that’s what we need to sort out. If there are any unfortunate cases of can’t pay for any reason, we need to look at ways we can work with residents. At the end of that, I’m confident we can get to a point where all costs are agreed, but if the only option we are left with is taking people to court, we will do that.
“It’s not the council being heavy-handed, we’re doing it for the sake of all our tenants. It isn’t fair on the vast majority of people who pay their way through life. If we can’t get where we want to through reasonable discussion, we have to move to the next point.”
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