RESIDENTS at a Southampton tower block say they are being forced to pay £5,000 for cladding the building doesn't legally need.

A feud over costs has erupted between frustrated flat owners at Orchard Place and HLM Property Management.

Ethan Taylor says that he and others living at the seven-storey property are being threatened with legal action should they refuse to pay for new cladding.

The 29-year-old, who has been living in the flats in Orchard Place for six years with his partner, said they are "stuck in limbo".

The row began after cladding laws - brought in after the Grenfell Tower tragedy - were changed.

Rules originally meant certain types of cladding needed to be removed from tower blocks across the country - with the cost to be footed by homeowners.

However, buildings under 18m tall do not have to make any changes, as they had "no systemic risk of fire”, according to more recent rules.

Planning documents lodged with Southampton City Council suggest that the Orchard Place is under this height.

Ethan told the Daily Echo he held back from paying the £5,000 bill due to the claw change.

Furthermore, he tried to reason with the company to freeze everyone's payments.

As a result, HLM Property Management sought legal advice and Ethan was handed a letter giving him seven days pay £7,289.40 for the bills, legal services and a fine.

Ethan said: It all just takes a toll on us, my partner broke down in tears when we had the [solicitor's letter] and saw that they have just added £700, we just felt powerless.

"We have now agreed a payment plan until August and to pay the total cost, they did remove the fines after we agreed to pay but we had to argue our case.

"Everyone was concerned about the extra costs that were adding up and no one has the money to fight a legal case."

He is now calling on the property company to freeze the payments.

But HLM says the works were done in accordance with government guidelines and were considered necessary for the safety of all residents.

A spokesperson for the company added: "We continue to work with the formal Residents Association for the benefit of all residents who live and own properties at Orchard Place.

"The majority of residents recognise the necessity of the works and that at the current time there is no other funding available.

"Significant efforts have been made to liaise with residents to allow payment plans and spread the costs, however where no effort has been made by some individuals, debt recovery action has proven necessary."