Neighbours in a tenement block have been left reeling after being slapped with £16,000 statutory repairs bills – and ordered to stump up straight away.
The South Queensferry residents had a series of repairs carried out to their shared roof in 2011.
While they accept the work was necessary and the bill was always going to arrive, they’re stunned by the immediate pay demand.
And insult was added to injury when they were told that if they wanted to pay over three years, they’d face paying eight per cent interest each year.
Under the statutory repairs scheme, the city council had the power to order essential work to be carried out on private properties. It paid up front for repairs to tenement buildings, then recovered the cash from owners.
The system was shelved in 2011 following an investigation into fraud and corruption which led to 11 workers being sacked.
Howard Smith, who owns one of the High Street flats, also hit out at the 15 per cent “administration charge” which is included in his £16,588 bill. The 45-year-old said: “The fact that they charge £2000 as a management fee is laughable. It should be the other way round – there should be a discount of £2000 for the way they have mis-managed the scheme.”
Council chiefs insisted they were flexible and were on hand to help owners who couldn’t meet their bills immediately.
A spokesman said: “We first send out a reminder letter followed by a full statement of works. Only then, around a month later, will they be billed.”
Bu Jason Connolly, another of the South Queensferry residents, said: “It’s all very well saying that we had plenty of time to prepare for the bills, because it’s such a high amount, but if you ask to pay by instalments, the council still gets eight per cent per annum.”
Green finance spokesperson Councillor Gavin Corbett said: “The reputation of the old property conservation service is in tatters so people will reasonably expect time to pay bills. The council needs to make sure it is doing the right thing by residents who have every cause to be upset by the process.”