By Rory Reynolds
A HOMEOWNER who had her door set on fire, was threatened at knife-point and had excrement smeared on her landing is being taken to court by her local council – for refusing to pay for any more damage.
Teresa Kershaw, 52, – who lives in a tower block “from hell” in Restalrig, Edinburgh, – faces appearing in court because she refuses to pay for vandalised property to be repaired.
Mrs Kershaw said: “I have reached the end of my tether – I have no problem paying a maintenance charge every month but funding graffiti and yobs urinating is not something I am willing to do.
“It really adds insult to injury, first we have to endure this horrible situation – dog dirt all over the walls, spit slithering down the doors and noise through the night – then we’re expected to pay for it.
“It is a nightmare, but I don’t want to move because we have built our home here and we can’t afford it.”Between 1 January and 31 March, Teresa’s block of flats were billed for 52 repairs costing £6,000 – some of which was for cleaning up bodily waste from the building’s lift.
Teresa and her husband John – who have owned their flat in Nisbet Court since 2002 – were charged an extra £700 damages in 2008, but refused to pay the council.
She added: “It happens all the time – if they have to go away and pick up a part or something they will charge for the whole repair again.
“It just doesn’t seem fair, four families in this block, including us, own their own properties and yet we’re still coughing up for acts of sheer vandalism – we just want to enjoy our homes in peace.
“They have CCTV in the block so why don’t they identify the culprits and make them pay?”
Thugs have scrawled abusive messages across communal doors in her building, including ‘£5 for sex’ and ‘Mistress Teresa’.
The abuse that the couple have received has driven Teresa into depression and she has to take pills to cope with the stress.
She said: “I’m already depressed and suffer from self harm, but since all of these things have piled up I’ve had to be put on medication for anxiety.
“We live in fear of being constantly hounded.”
One of Teresa’s neighbours – who did not want to be named because of fear of retribution – said living at Nesbit Court is a “living nightmare”.
They said: “I’ve only been here two months but I already want to leave.
“The dirt, graffiti and smell is too much – the atmosphere is terrible.”
Councillor Ewan Aitken, who was previously Teresa’s local councillor said: “Block charges are inherently difficult, especially when home owners and tenants are living together.
“Owners do feel aggrieved that they end up paying for the irresponsible actions of a small minority.
“In the end, what Teresa’s campaign is down to isn’t about the money – it is about rights for owners who want to live a peaceful life.”
An Edinburgh City Council spokesman said they could not discuss the legal case but added: “Anyone who owns a flat in a block, whether in a tenement, a high rise block or in another form of flatted development has a shared responsibility for costs relating to common areas along with all of the other owners.
“Where there is evidence that damage caused to common areas can be traced to specific individuals, then the owners can take actions to recover costs from such individuals.”
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “We are aware of a number of incidents that have been reported to us by the complainer, and in every case the circumstances have been investigated and where a culprit has been identified, a report has been sent to the Procurator Fiscal.
“We are currently investigating a report of vandalism that happened on Friday night within a common stairwell at Nisbet Court in the Restalrig area.”