A north-east couple claim they could be forced into bankruptcy due to spiralling factoring costs.
Charles Malcolm and Jessica Dawson’s fees have trebled in the three years they have lived in a new build flat on Charleston Road North, Cove.
When they purchased the property from Scotia Homes they claim they were told that they would have to pay about £30 a month to Life Property Management (LPM), which took over the upkeep and maintenance of the building and grounds.
However a matter of months after getting the keys they were told the costs had to go up to £70.
The couple claim LPM told them that Scotia had not informed them about a communal heating system.
Now, three years later, the couple – who have a 14-month-old son – are being charged £132 each month, which amounts to almost £1,600 a year.
Mr Malcolm said: “They (LPM) said it’s taken them a couple of years to work out how much it’s going to cost them to run the flats.
“But it’s now working out more expensive than a house. We’ve got a wee one so we can’t really downsize. And because of the market we would lose money.
“It would cost us about £8,000 to effectively walk away. We know people who live in the houses round the corner and it’s cheaper for them.
“Scotia has now changed the website to the actual factoring costs but it was still telling people it was cheaper than what we were paying after we moved in.
“If we had known what the factoring costs would be we would never have bought the flat.”
The pair, along with most of the residents in their block, are to have an emergency meeting with LPM to discuss the situation.
“We’ve got no money left to live, our only option is looking like bankruptcy,” he added.
Their case has been supported by Liam Kerr, North East MSP, who has been in regular contact with residents at the apartments.
“Unfortunately, this type of dispute is not unique. Many homeowners have found themselves in a similar situation,” he said.
“The fact is that these charges are legitimate and covered by legally binding contracts. However, I think the residents have a case to make for a reduction.
“At the very least, I think factoring companies need to do a much better job of communicating with property owners in advance of any hikes in bills.”
LPM confirmed the original estimate for the flats had to be revised due to a number of changes to the developer’s specifications, including the communal heating system.
A spokesman added: “As LPM manage the development for and on behalf of the homeowners, we have arranged meetings with homeowners to assess cost efficiency options, while ensuring maintenance levels continue to sustain and potentially increase property values.”
Scotia said it was unable to comment on individual cases.