Owners of ex-local authority homes face horror of bills running into thousands

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Leaseholders find themselves caught up in council drives to improve the condition of their housing stock, often at great cost

When Cat Whitehouse and her partner James Wooldridge bought their ex-local authority flat on the Roupell Park estate in Lambeth four years ago, they were told there were no major works planned on the block. Then lumps of concrete started to fall off it, prompting health and safety fears.

Lambeth council initially told leaseholders that repairs to the estate would cost £7m, and that the Whitehouse’s share would be £6,000. This soon more than doubled to £13,000 – a fee they scraped together by adding to their mortgage and plundering their savings. Now they have been billed another £5,000 – on top of the £170 service charge they pay every month.

Related: I’m trapped in my leasehold property by ever-doubling ground rent

Our share of the bill doubled from £6,000 to £13,000 … it seems ludicrous mismanagement

Related: Leasehold in England and Wales is last redoubt of a colonial relic

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The Hidden Costs of Home Ownership in 2017

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American homeowners can expect to spend between $7,000 and $16,000 a year in hidden or unexpected costs related to owning and maintaining a home. From unexpected maintenance expenses to property taxes, utilities and insurance, that’s an average of $9,080 per year in extra costs.  

Is it worth switching to LED lights and fittings?

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I’ve heard the claims but I’m not yet sold. Please convince me

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

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Cath Kidston: ‘I'm not someone who wants to be famous'

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The founder of the eponymous company, famed for its floral designs, says she wishes she’d been braver when she was young and hints at a new venture

Totally, I was one of those kids who played shop from as young as I can remember. I was always making a stall in the garden, or trying to sell my mum’s grocery cupboard back to her. I started my first business, a design company, with a friend when I was 28. But I didn’t open the first Cath Kidston store until I was 34. Before that, I’d worked in shops and galleries.

Related: Not on the High Street co-founder: ‘I got an E in A-level business’

I had a very clear understanding that once I’d sold my business, I’d sold my name

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B&Q installation flooded our home but no one is paying up

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A sub-contractor accidentally caused the damage but we’re still out of pocket

We paid £13,381 for a fully fitted kitchen from B&Q. Ten days into the installation the subcontractor accidentally caused a flood, damaging carpets, furniture and possessions.

B&Q managers advised that we make a claim. We therefore sent an email with supporting documents requesting £2,592.41. More than three months later we’re still waiting.

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Would a white carpet be a disaster?

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Anyone have experience of one – surely it will end in stains and tears?

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

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Small Business Owners’ Views on Health Care

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While policymakers debate the future of health care in D.C., we surveyed 3,576 small business professionals in 44 states across the country to understand how the American small business community feels about the Affordable Care Act and the Republican plans that might replace it.