Residents of the Aqua apartment building in Poole are being sent invoices of up to £72,000, to pay for the cladding on their building after the introduction of new fire safety legislation.

On average, the majority of the building's 96 residents are receiving bills of around £30,000.

So far, two thirds of the residents have paid their invoice or set up a payment plan with their property managers’ Freemont to pay it.

Residents are reportedly taking out loans and borrowing from their families to pay the costs, with one resident already handing back the keys to their flat because they are unable to pay.

Read more: Residents ordeal as non-compliant cladding investigated on 22 blocks across BCP

Martin Baily, the Chairman of the Aqua Residents Association told the Echo that the total estimated costs are £4,321,491 with grant of £2,205,606 from the Building Safety Fund.

The difference between these two figures has been shared between 97 apartments and Lakesides.

How much each person is required to pay is determined by the square footage of their apartment.

Campaigners across the country wanted the government’s recent post-Grenfell ‘Building Safety Bill’ to protect leaseholders from having to cover the costs of removing the cladding and fixing fire-safety defects.

Read more: 'I ended up phoning the Samaritans': Residents in turmoil over cladding scandal

However, the Bill ruled against this notion and instead states that landlords must “take reasonable steps” to find other sources of money - but if they cannot find this then leaseholders must pay.

The building was built by Linden Homes in 2008 and the freehold has since been bought by RMB Trading Ltd.

One resident, told the Echo: “Linden Homes are saying it’s not their responsibly and that they’re not willing to stand up to their part and fund the new cladding.”

Some Aqua residents feel they have no choice but to pay. Mr Bailey said: “It's a very difficult situation to be in. The problem you've got is all of the lease holders in the building effectively are contractually obliged to pay any bills that are put forward by the landlord, providing they are reasonable.”

“So, if we don't pay those bills, we leave ourselves exposed to being taken to court for being in breach of the contract. Those costs could then escalate as the lease holder would be within his legal right to take us to court and charge costs on top.”

Additionally, leaseholders are unable to sell their homes because any building above 18 meters high now has to have a EWS 1 certificate, which provides evidence on building safety from a cladding and fire safety point of view.

The Aqua building is above 18 metres high and it hasn’t got a certificate because of the properties' cladding issues.

Mr Bailey says: “What that means is that anyone that tries to get a mortgage, their lender will basically return a value of zero because from their point of view they don’t want to be seen to be lending money on what’s considered to be a death trap.

“So as it stands at the moment, all our apartments are worthless.”

“People haven’t paid in the sense that they agree with it but they’ve paid because they are effectively backed into a corner.”

The resident who attended a recent meeting with the building's property managers said: “The freeholder and his managing agent have got no sympathy for these people.

“There was a lady who was at the meeting who was in her 90s and she said I just haven’t got this money, I haven’t got it, I never planned to spend this money.

“There was also a retired policeman and he borrowed the money off of his brother. People are just frightened of getting the bills and they're paying it and they shouldn’t be paying it, it's not their responsibility to pay it.”

The leaseholders who have already paid or set up a payment plan are hoping that in the future regulations will change and they will be able to take the builders to court and have their money reimbursed.

The chairman of the resident’s association said: “I think some people may think that we're kind of rolling over. That's not the case at all. I think they're trying to push that bill through and hopefully in six months’ time, that will become law and it may well be that we can then look to pursue the builder and recover our funds there, but that doesn't help in the short term, so, you know I really feel for some of the residents.

“We're trying to make the point that we hope that we will be able to recover this money at some point. The fact that what the builders did at the time was wrong, is undisputed.”

Emma Byrne, of the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign, said: "We are now seeing an exponential rise in the number of impossible bills landing on people’s doorsteps. The government has continuously pleaded with building owners to ‘do the right thing’, yet freeholders and managing agents continue to pass these enormous costs on.

"The building safety scandal has uncovered years of shoddy construction work, corporate malfeasance and unfit government regulation, yet only the true innocent party in this whole mess – the leaseholders themselves – are expected to pay to put things right. Very few of the up to three million people caught up in this crisis can afford these bills – and morally they shouldn’t have to."

A Linden Homes spokesperson said: “The building was completed by Linden in 2006 and we have not received any recent contact from the freeholder.

“We fully sympathise with any residents affected by recent changes to building regulations and continue to work with the Government and sector bodies to find an industry solution that is practical and fair to all parties.”

An Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) spokesperson said: “We are spending £5 billion to fund the replacement of unsafe cladding in the highest risk buildings and are making the biggest improvements to building safety in a generation.

“Our new measures will double the amount of time in which compensation for shoddy workmanship can be claimed and will introduce a legal requirement for owners of high-rise buildings to prove they have tried all routes to cover the cost of fixing their buildings.

“This approach strikes the right balance in our continuing commitment to protecting leaseholders and being fair to taxpayers – while reassuring lenders that where cladding remediation is needed, costs will not be a barrier or mean that mortgage payments become unmanageable.”