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Couple left with £600 gas bill after squatters take over Ilford home

PUBLISHED: 16:00 07 January 2012

The garden of the home in Thorold Road, Ilford, after squatters left in December

The garden of the home in Thorold Road, Ilford, after squatters left in December

Archant

A couple were landed with a £600 gas bill after squatters took over a family home in Ilford for three months.

The husband and wife, who do not want to be named, were asked to pay the expensive charge by British Gas despite telling the company a gang had taken over the property.

They had already settled their own final bill for the home in Thorold Road, which belonged to the husband’s late father.

But they were still told a debt collection agency could be used to gain payment from them.

British Gas has since backed down and apologised to the couple who are further victims of gangs of squatters operating in Redbridge.

The wife, who lived in Chadwell Heath for 25 years, said: “It’s not the money, it’s the principle.

“When you give them a final reading and pay the final bill, that should be the end of it.

“We did the courteous thing to say ‘you have squatters in there’, but they chose not to do anything about it.”

A British Gas spokesman said: “We did not deal with the inquiry as we should have done and due to the circumstances in this case we will write off the outstanding balance as a gesture of goodwill.”

The couple were close to selling the home when a family of squatters took it over on September 28.

It is believed that two couples and four children were staying there at one point.

The group left on December 8 when they were due to be evicted.

All the home’s carpets had been taken, four windows were broken and holes were drilled in doors and windows to install satellite television.


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