Tenants have condemned “ruthless” housing chiefs for forcing them to pay £10,000 each for renovations - two years before their flats are due to be bulldozed.
Leaseholders on the West Hendon Estate are embroiled in a row with Barnet Homes, which is refusing to waive charges for the repairs.
Residents in Tyrell Way and Marsh Drive will be moved out of their homes in the next two to six years to make way for 2,000 new flats as part of the West Hendon Regeneration project.
But the 110 residents have taken a defiant stance against the costs, which they could still be paying off long after the blocks have been demolished.
Glynnis Walker is campaigning against the charges on behalf of her frail mother, 84-year-old Adelaide Adams, who lives in Tyrell Way.
She said: “She can’t pay it. It’s extortion - how dare they? They should be ashamed of themselves. It’s nothing short of a disgrace.
“They are ruthless and they don’t care about all the stress they are putting these people through. It is heartbreaking to see how miserable everyone is because of this.”
Barnet Homes has offered a 24-month payment plan which would see residents pay £450 per month - similar to the cost of many of their monthly mortgage repayments.
The organisation has offered people the chance to spread the repayments over ten years, with interest.
All the homes are subject to a compulsory purchase order, meaning householders are banned from selling their properties.
Jacqueline Parsons, 72, said: “It is nothing shot of thievery. We are not paying it. We just don’t have that kind of money.
“I am stressed. I am not sleeping and I am constantly worried. It’s put a lot of pressure on me - I feel miserable.”
One 94-year-old woman on the estate has been diagnosed with cancer, and has been left petrified of being in severe debt.
Carmen Perrott, 54, lost her husband unexpectedly five years ago and has been trying to rebuild her life after a bout of depression.
The mother-of-two’s eldest child recently suffered a breakdown and her youngest son, 19, is saving up to go travelling - and eventually for a mortgage of his own.
She said: “Where am I supposed to shell out this money from? I am not on benefits. I was so happy when I paid off my mortgage a few years ago, and now this.
“I feel like I’m sinking back deeper and deeper into a depressive state.”
The repairs, which are supposed to have a 25-year life span, will cost £3.5million in total and will pay for costs to electrical repairs, asbestos removal and fixing lifts in the blocks.
Labour councillor candidates Adam Langleben and Dr Devra Kay protested with residents during a payment advice surgery yesterday.
He said: “Not many people have £10,000 lying around in their back pocket and they will only see around six years usage of it. It’s wrong on so many levels.”
Barnet Homes said in a statement that the wiring in the blocks is in a “state of disrepair” that poses a serious health hazard.
A spokesman said: “The anticipated life expectancy of such works would normally be around 25 years, although this does not constitute a guarantee that they would last this length of time.
“It is not intended that any of the leaseholders who will be affected by these works will be moved out next year.
“The works are essential and the fact that the properties are due for demolition does not affect the cost of delivering them.
“Under the terms of the lease the leaseholders are required to contribute the percentage defined within the lease towards the costs.
“However, Barnet Council is looking at options to reduce the value recharged to the leaseholders to reflect the fact that the leaseholders will not get the full benefit of the works.”