Hi Friends, I hope you can help me on this, the council are being a nightmare about it.

We own a house in an estate and it is ex-local authority. As it is in such an area, it is part of the Right to Buy agreement that we pay towards the service charges.

A few years ago they charged us upwards of 6000 for repairs and upgrades to the estate - including double glazing for all the houses.

Unfortunately at the time the house was taken over by squatters, who did not allow the council access to the house.

We have recently regained possession and the first thing we did was call the council to have the windows fitted (we also offered to do it ourselves and be reimbursed).

However, they claim that since they have already paid the contractor to do the work, and we have already paid the service charge, they now won't fit the windows.

We think this is incredibly unfair, especially as we disputed the payment in the first place and eventually it was added onto our mortgageicon. Is that not payment under duress? We would have forfeited the lease and thus the mortgageicon if we had not paid it.

How can the council justify such a large service charge if they don't even do the one piece of work that was related to our property?

All I can think to do is sue the council, but I don't know how to do this myself and could do without involving solicitors if possible.

In the meantime, the windows are in a really bad state (you can imagine how squatters 'look after' houses) and we're going to have to replace the them for security.

Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

(And though I'm not one to name and shame, if it helps, the council is in East London and its name rhymes with a skin condition usually associated with adolescence. )