Wolverhampton homeowners to pursue legal action after told 'pay £48k for repairs or sell up'

Only two people have formally complained to their local authority about being told to either sell their homes or pay up to £48,000 for repairs – but others have said that will not stop them considering legal action.

Showell Circus, in Low Hill, Wolverhampton.
Showell Circus, in Low Hill, Wolverhampton.

Extensions were built onto 380 council homes in the Low Hill area of Wolverhampton in the 1970s and 1980s.

But now that many are crumbling, the city council says the extensions, known as pods, are unsafe and need demolishing.

However, 32 of the extensions are attached to pods built onto homes that are now privately owned.

The council says it is unable to tear down the extensions at its own properties without affecting the privately-owned homes, so those must also come down.

Private owners have been told they face either selling their homes to the council at full market value or paying up to £48,000 for the work to be done, whether privately or through the authority.

Some who were outraged by the announcement have been encouraging others to lodge formal complaints with the council – the first step towards potentially taking legal action against the authority.

But today it emerged that only two of those affected have done so.

Sharon Rousell, who handed out complaint forms at a residents' meeting following the council's original announcement, said she was surprised that the number was so low, adding that she understood it to be higher.

She said: "I know of three, including me, who have complained."

She added: "There are still bound to be some of us prepared to look at legal action so it won't stop the rest of us.

"If people aren't filing complaints it doesn't necessarily mean they aren't bothering; they might have their reasons."

For those wishing to seek legal advice, the next step after lodging complaints with the council will be to approach the housing ombudsman.

The council, however, says it anticipates reaching an agreement with everyone involved and has encouraged the homeowners to seek independent legal advice.

The repairs are being carried out at the 260 properties owned by the council that have pod extensions.

Work has already begun at void and rented properties and the entire project is expected to take around two years, with the options put forward by the local authority currently being consulted on.

Council spokesman Gurdip Thandi said: "We have received two formal complaints from private residents following our consultation on options to rectify defective extensions to joined council and privately owned properties.

"These will be considered as part of the consultation process for this phase of works."

Comments for: "Wolverhampton homeowners to pursue legal action after told 'pay £48k for repairs or sell up'"

charlie17

Sounds like something out of "Big Brother" to me. Not sure that the Council or anyone has the right to tell the owner of a property what to do unless they are building an new extension. Think that I would take out legal insurance and sue the Council if they damaged my property. I would of course advise them in writing that they could not demolish any part of my property. This is Great Britain not China.

Lakeside

These privately owned houses would have been bought at prices well below the true market value at the time the Council sold them, so why should the Council pay full market value for them now? Also, if these properties were bought with mortgages then surely surveys should have picked up whatever structural issues there are with these pods?

Now the present council is stuck with a 30-40 year old problem which is not of their making and are expected to finance a solution. One answer might be for the Council to carry out necessary work on the private houses but with a charge for the full cost made against the deeds of the house so that the cost of repairs, plus interest at building society rates, is returned to the Council when the property is sold or transferred. The Council and taxpayers of Wolverhampton should not need to carry this burden, particularly when Council houses were sold cheaply in the first place.

markie

The council houses were only sold cheaply because they had sitting tennants which reduces the market value. A willing buyer and a willing seller agreed the price at the time.

It seems the council probably got into this mess by using untried and tested methods of building for these pods. If the private occupiers dont want the work done, that, surely, is up to them, and if the council damage their properties in the repairs to adjoining council properties then surely it is down to the council to make good the damage.

charlie17

No way would I want the Council to do any work on my property, if it needs to be done and that could be a big IF, I would get quotes from the private sector. It would not include the overhead that Council work does.

middley

Firstly if the people who bought these house off the council at the right to buy scheme it's probably because they wanted to improve the property which the councils weren't doing and had the fortune to do it. Then it was the government and councils getting rid of a problem they didn't want to get money into the coffers so you can't blame the residents for buying them and the people who are in there now may not be the people who bought it off the council so you can't penalise them by giving them what the original price was. The pods must have been built by the council or contractors working for the council, they wasn't privately built by the homeowner. I paid over £400 for a dropped kerb and paid for my own drive, then two years later the council did everyone's on the estate for free, so I couldn't go crying to the council asking for my money back, they would have fell about laughing !