A PROPERTY firm’s final bill for overcharging householders for allowing improvements to their homes is expected to top £100,000.

The Echo can reveal Thorpe Estated Ltd has already repaid more than £71,000 charged to people living on the Burges Estate, which spans Thorpe Bay and parts of Shoebury.

Ron Woodley, chairman of the Burges Estate Residents’ Association (BERA), said: “It’s going to be well in excess of £100,000.

“When you consider the situation over the last 12 years, £71,000 is a nice sum – but it’s not all of it yet.

“As people realise these charges were inappropriate, more people will come forward; and we hope we address those as well.”

Mr Woodley and fellow independent Thorpe Ward councillor Mike Stafford met with a representative from Thorpe Estates last Tuesday to present more cases where residents have been overcharged for permission for adjustments like extensions, disabled access ramps or changes to windows.

The campaigners are still in talks with Nicky Gould, joint owner of the Regis Group, an international property giant that owns a 51 per cent stake of Thorpe Estates, over lifting a restrictive covenant that allows it to levy a “reasonable administration charge” from residents who want to change their homes.

He had expected to call a meeting of the association to announce a deal by now, but Mr Gould is rarely available in the UK to meet.

BERA also wants to keep an absolute covenant that prevents people from building a second home on their plot, install caravans or run certain businesses from their homes.

Mr Woodley said: “The integrity of the estate is important to all residents. That’s without question.

“People want to love here because it’s well kept and well maintained.

“There are covenants that we need to protect that.”

BBC show Inside Out picked up on the Echo’s coverage of the residents’ plight over the past few months and ran a report last week.

Mr Woodley said: “With the Echo picking up on the cases in the last few months, it enabled other channels of media to get involved and highlight this issue.”