A GROUP of leaseholders on an estate in Andover who said their lives have been 'completely destroyed' after they were slapped with bills of more than £30,000 each have quizzed Andover's MP over the issue.

On Friday, February 2, at King Arthurs Hall leaseholders of flats in Kingsway Gardens grilled MP Kit Malthouse on the issues they have been facing for around seven years.

As previously reported, leaseholders of the flats have been locked in a battle with the Aster Group over work to address structural issues and the ongoing maintenance of the buildings.

Some residents say they are being 'threatened' with court action if they don't pay.

Andover Advertiser: Aster residents at the meeting

READ MORE: Kingsway Gardens: Residents faced with extortionate bills

Neighbours went through a tribunal with Aster to determine if some of the maintenance contract should be paid by leaseholders and if work on the blocks was necessary and reasonable.

In 2018 the tribunal determined that some of the work highlighted by Aster needed to be carried out but it was ordered that the overall cost of the work should be reduced.

Following this leaseholders' bills were recalculated and varied depending on the extent of the works required on their block. 

When the work was completed, Aster said it carried out negotiations with the contractor which carried out the work to challenge the additional costs it was billing as a result of further work and other delays.

Aster disputed the contractor's costs which meant it was able to save over £470,000 overall for residents, with the final agreed cost being £3,498,985.85.

Despite challenges from residents, many have been left to pay extortionate bills, with some saying they cannot afford to pay.

During the meeting residents raised concerns about the quality of some work, while another resident said communication has been poor throughout the process.

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In response, Mr Malthouse promised residents that if they give him a list of all the current problems he will talk to Aster about them.

In the meeting, Gary Rayner, who spoke on behalf of everyone said that the estate has been left in a bad way following the works including leaking balconies and rendering that is falling off the walls.

In response to the MP's promise, he said: "If you walk around the estate now it is no better than it was than when Aster initially came in and they ran it into the ground. Ten years of no maintenance and then we pick up the bill. That is not acceptable.

He said residents have all been dealing with the nightmare for years.

He continued: "This doesn't mitigate the fact that these people are now in a financial position where their crippled and they can't afford to pay and they have endured stress and illness. You can't take that away.”

Andover Advertiser: Aster residents at the meeting

"What you are saying is or what you are tying to attach to that is 'alright I solved the problem' but the problem is bigger than that."

Kit replied: "I don’t underestimate at all that it would have been a huge stress and strain over the years that have past but my problem is I can't do a lot about that. What I can do is try and help you solve the problems you currently have got. My job is to help you and get you into a better position with Aster."

Mr Rayner added: "People have gone to the grave with Aster on their back and the pressure Aster put on them to pay for these bills which we really shouldn't be paying."

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Talking to the Advertiser after the meeting Kit said: "This has obviously been a saga that has run on far too long.

"We need some kind of resolution and I can understand why residents are angry and upset because these are large amounts of money. My job is to make sure that Aster do their job to the best of their ability.

"We are talking about peoples homes, which is often the most important place in the world to them so of course they feel passionately about it."

He said he hopes to take the upset, anger and frustration and turn it into action.

An Aster spokesperson added: “We are committed to working in collaboration with our customers at Kingsway Gardens, to listen and respond to any queries they may have.

“At the public meeting, Kit Malthouse MP made the offer to host a roundtable discussion with both ourselves and customers who are in touch with him around the major works. We are more than happy to join the discussion, and hope it will prove a useful exercise in alleviating any ongoing concerns.”