Heard the one about “how much does it cost to change a lightbulb?”
Some residents in former Falkirk Council properties are finding out the answer is – quite a lot!
With owner/occupiers having to pay a share of any communal repairs, one group of residents living in a Bantaskine maisonette block were faced with an £80 bill to have a light bulb replaced in their close.
There are eight homes in the block and the owner/occupiers among them were stunned to each be sent a bill for £10 when the light went out.
One resident said: “It seemed an awful lot of money when you realised that it was only a share of the bill. If it had been £10 for the entire thing that would have been a bit better.”
Another neighbour said people were actually deciding not to report faults and repairs for fear of what they could be charged.
Owners are advised when they make an application to buy their property that they will have to pay a share of any repairs that are carried out as necessity by the local authority. This particularly affects flats, maisonettes and four-in-a-block properties.
Residents have complained about being faced with bills for several hundred pounds as the council carries out upgrading work to its housing stock, particularly repairing roofs and installing controlled door entry systems.
There have been occasions when owner/occupiers have declined to have the work carried out after receiving estimates. On these occasions they have arranged to have the work carried out themselves and it is understood the council then pay a share on behalf of their tenants.
Told of the £80 bill, Councillor David Alexander said: “That is ridiculous and I am pretty sure new.”
A spokeswoman for Falkirk Council said: “Owner/occupiers living in flatted properties pay a percentage of any communal repairs carried out by the council on behalf of our tenants.
“Repairs of this kind have to be carried out quickly to ensure the health and safety of all tenants and residents.
“In this instance, a thorough investigation was carried out to identify an electrical fault which was then rectified and tested thoroughly.”