Leaseholders who let out their properties have accused Haringey Council of unethical and discriminatory behaviour in an ongoing row over costly repair bills.

Non-resident leaseholders with properties on Noel Park Estate in Wood Green were excluded from a £25,000 cap on part of their repair bills by the council, leaving some facing costs of more than £100,000 for renovation work.

It has left some of those affected suffering from stress and fearing they will have to sell their properties. 

Bills were sent to Noel Park residents last year as part of a £21million major works programme that involves replacing outdated bathroom ‘pods’ – extensions to the properties built in the 1970s – as well as repairing or replacing roofs, brickwork, doors and windows. In May, the council pledged to cap bills for replacement pods at £25,000 – but only for resident leaseholders.

Read more: Council criticised over response to estate major works review

Read more: Council leader apologises for ‘communications issues’ over repair bills

The council has promised that non-resident leaseholder bills will not climb any higher than they are – but only if they agree not to take legal action over the renovation work. Leader Cllr Peray Ahmet said the council had offered a “significant reduction” in costs, and that non-resident owners who are “investing in these flats to make a commercial profit” should not be subsidised by council tenants’ rents or other public funds.

Kirsten Lowe, who was sent a bill of £108,000 for the full repairs, said: “It seems like an unethical way to behave. It is really arbitrary in terms of how they decided to offer the cap. I’m not a non-resident leaseholder by choice.”

Kirsten said she had to move out of her home on the estate in 2017 because she and her partner needed more room to start a family, but she could not sell the property because mortgage companies would not lend against it due to the repair work that needed doing.

She said: “That is because they (the council's housing arm Homes for Haringey) had not done the work sooner and let the property get into such a state.” The council’s housing arm told residents in 2009 that bathroom pods needed replacing and residents have claimed that estimated costs increased as the years passed.

Kirsten said: “I can’t describe the level of stress – it’s not like anything I’ve had before. My anxiety has really increased.”

A letter sent to non-resident leaseholders states that the council will cap service charges at their current amount, but if the leaseholders accept the offer it will be the “full and final settlement” of any claims against the council relating to the works, so they “cannot take the council to court or tribunal over any such claims”.

The deadline to accept the council’s offer is October 31, which Kirsten said created an “extra level of stress” because they were being asked to waive their legal rights. She said non-resident leaseholders had asked if they could delay signing the agreement while they considered their options, but the council had refused.

Julia, another non-resident leaseholder, said it was “absolutely ridiculous” that the council expected her and others to pay more than £100,000. Her bill also came to £108,000.

She said she had been given the flat by her mother, who was no longer able to live there on her own. Julia uses the rental income to help pay for a more suitable place for her mum close to where she lives.

She said: “My mum gifted me the flat so I can take care of her, and now we are faced with this big bill, and we are being discriminated [against].”

Julia added: “I will probably end up selling the place, because I don’t think I would be able to afford it. We are in a very, very horrible situation, and Haringey Council are the ones who put us here.”

Cllr Ahmet said: “I have made it clear since the day I took over as leader that I would be working closely with residents across the borough and giving them a chance to have a say on big issues that affect them.

“It is no different on Noel Park Estate, where these essential works need to be carried out so that residents can benefit from a major change to their living conditions.

“The council have offered a significant reduction and a cap on the cost of replacing these pods, as well as an absolute ceiling on the total cost of works to be charged under this contract for resident leaseholders who live on the estate.

“We believe it is right that non-resident owners who are investing in these flats to make a commercial profit should not be subsidised by council tenants’ rents or any other public funds.

“We have ensured that communication has been key to this process in recent months, and we have held a number of meetings with leaseholders and will continue to speak as we review their individual financial circumstances.”