EIGHTY defiant residents who refused to pay rent increases on their retirement homes were forced to give up their fight in the face of crippling legal costs.

The residents, who live on Kings Park Village, on Canvey were taken to court on Monday by the owners of the over-50s complex for refusing to pay a 4.8 per cent rise in their rent in 2011 and then again in 2012.

Collectively they owe the park’s owners, Kings Park Village LLP, around £20,000 in unpaid fees and will now have to fork out the amount, plus additional legal costs, after throwing in the towel.

Had they continued, the legal costs of the hearing, which took place at Southend’s County Court, were estimated to total a whopping £88,000 – a price they could not afford.

Frank Atwood, chairman of the Kings Park Residents Association, said: “I am disappointed and downright disgusted. We anticipated there would be costs, but not in this region. People just can’t afford that kind of money.”

The hearing, which had been scheduled to last three days, is the culmination of a seven year battle between the owners and residents of the Kings Park Village, on Canvey, who feel the rent rises are unfair as many facilities on the park have been taken away.

Pauline Reeve, 66, said: “Ultimately it was our decision, but what other choice did we have? It is a bitter disappointment."

In 2007 the bar area was bulldozed and the park’s then owner, Jack King, promised residents it would be replaced.

He then sold the site to Kings Park Village LLP later that year and residents claim more facilities have since gone.

However, the owners did submit plans to create a new cafe bar on the site last year which were rejected by Castle Point Council.

Barrister Leslie Blohm argued on behalf of the park owners: “This has been a lengthy dispute, a costly dispute and an unpleasant dispute, and I think no one wants to go through it again.

“My client has not been willing to enter into any binding commitment with consideration of new facilities, but that is not because he does not wish to build them, but because of the scope that gives to further legal dispute.”

District Judge Bruce Edgington said during the case: “I am sure you will be disappointed with the result of it. Whilst you may have had moral sympathy for what happened in 2007, we cannot give you any legal sympathy.

“What you have done by making this brave decision is at least save yourself some money in terms of costs. I think you made the right decision."