A COUNCILLOR has criticised a company for sending out “intimidating” letters without doing its homework.

Letters sent out by ground rent management company Pier Management to residents on the Burges estate, in Thorpe Bay, appear to threaten legal action against residents who cannot prove they got written consent to make alterations to their properties.

The letters say Pier Management is acting on behalf of the estate’s freehold owner, Regis Group subsidiary Thorpe Estates, which also owns the estate’s covenants, which are rules governing what can and cannot be done to or on a piece of land or property.

Thorpe ward councillor Ron Woodley said: “The idea of the covenants was to maintain the integrity of the estate and to keep the environment we enjoy here.

“They have sent out hundreds of letters, just addressed to the occupier. Some of them have gone to very elderly people who are now scared by the thought they could be pursued for money.

“Some of the work goes back 20 or 30 years, so finding the paperwork could be impossible.

“To send letters out so indiscriminately is scaring a lot of people, elderly or not.”

Mr Woodley said he had been receiving many calls and letters about the issue from worried residents, and the Burges Estate Residents’ Association has hired a solicitor to act on behalf of the association and its members.

Mr Woodley added he had spoken to a resident in Marcus Gardens, who wrote to Pier Management after receiving a letter and got a response saying they had been written to in error following a typographical error in a mail merge programme used to send the letters.

One resident, of The Broadway, in Thorpe Bay, who received one of the letters, said they had caused a lot of distress, particularly for elderly residents.

The woman, who asked not to be named, added: “I think the letters are so intimidating. It is clearly designed to intimidate people and it’s obviously been done carte blanche.

“When we moved here we checked for covenants and there weren’t any. We are now going through the process of seeing our lawyers about this. We aren’t taking this lying down.”

A spokesman from Thorpe Estates said: “As the owners of the freeholds and covenants on Thorpe Estate, it is our responsibility to ensure all alterations to individual properties that are carried are not to the detriment of other residents and to the overall integrity of the estate.”