The council have been urged to change their approach to leaseholders after it emerged they were charging people as much as £25,000 for improvements to their homes.

Enfield Council were recently found to have sent letters to people who had leased homes on Town Road, Edmonton, asking for tens of thousands of pounds for building and repair works.

David Flint, chair of the Enfield Green Party, accused the council of “notable clumsiness” over the issue.

He said: “If leaseholders have to pay why must it be through such a large bill?

“Many privately-owned blocks of flats impose an annual service charge from which they build up a contingency fund. It is this fund that pays for unusual repairs and improvements. None of the council’s blocks have such a fund.

“A contingency fund plus suitable insurance could insure that never again will the council’s leaseholders be faced with such outrageous charges.”

Mr Flint did praise the council’s home improvement programme for council and ex-council housing for its focus on energy efficiency, but said that greater care needed to be taken to avoid what he called “startling” charges.

The council is spending millions modernising its council homes, but estimates each leaseholder at Brett Court on Town Road needs to contribute between £15,000 and £25,000. These leaseholders include elderly people, one as old as 78.

Cllr Ahmet Oykener, cabinet member for housing, said: “Enfield Council has a statutory duty as a landlord to maintain its housing stock and is carrying out a much-needed investment programme to ensure that our properties are kept to a decent standard and are safe and secure.

“Leaseholders are responsible under the terms of their lease to contribute their share for work carried out to the block and shared areas.

"This is a clear stipulation of the lease and is always drawn to attention before signing. We appreciate the impact this can have and actively approach leaseholders as early as possible once we know that works are likely to be completed.”