Tenement work costs owners £50,000 each

FLAT owners and small businesses are facing bills of £50,000 each after their crumbling tenement building was declared unsafe by the council.

Work to replace the roof, chimney and stonework on the B-listed building in Bruntsfield will cost around 500,000 in total.

Ten flats and businesses are affected, with owners and shopkeepers shocked to be told they will have to cover the huge bill themselves as there are no grants available.

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The council inspected the property at 131-141 Bruntsfield Place and 42 Forbes Road last April following a complaint about falling masonry and found it to be "in a serious state of disrepair".

The high level stone pediments - or gables - had separated from the building and were in "danger of collapse".

An emergency scaffold was erected immediately to make the building safe and a Statutory Notice was issued by the council requiring that the repair work be carried out.

Work got under way in October and is expected to be completed by October this year - which is when the flat and business owners will be faced with their 50,000 bills.

An application to Historic Scotland asking for help to pay for the repairs has been rejected.

Pensioner Diana O Mackenzie said she will have to consider selling her Bruntsfield Place flat as she will not be able to take out a mortgage extension to cover the cost. She said: "I'm scared stiff about the whole thing. I really don't know what I'm going to do. I may have to move, but I haven't made a final decision yet."

Business owners have warned this massive cost could put some shops out of business, while others are already talking about being forced to put up prices.

Karen Mackay, who has run her Nippers kids clothing store in Bruntsfield for 18 years, will have to foot her share of the bill, despite the fact she doesn't even own her premises. She said: "If you rent a flat then your landlord is responsible for repairs, but if you rent a commercial property you have to pay for anything that needs to be done to it repair-wise.

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"It is a ridiculous amount of money and it's given people a lot of sleepless nights because it isn't a manageable amount."

George Scott, 58, who owns Kimiko hairdressers, said he will have to put any plans for retirement on hold. He added: "It means I'll have to stay a bit longer and I'll have to put my prices up."

A council spokeswoman said: "It is regrettable that the condition of the buildings warrants such large-scale repairs but these are required to safeguard the owners and general public as well as the property itself.

"Whilst we have great sympathy for those affected, it is important to remember that property owners are collectively responsible for the maintenance of their buildings."

It is not the first time that residents in Bruntsfield have been left facing hefty repair bills. In 2004, 17 flat owners at the corner of Leamington Terrace and Leamington Place were each hit with a 30,000 bill after the council ordered them to repair their crumbling building.

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