RESIDENTS at a plush riverside development have been sacked by their factor - because so few of them are paying for communal areas to be maintained.

Glasgow-based factor Life Property Management says it was forced to pull out of Kingston Quay, Tradeston, at the end of last month because only a small number of owners are paying for shared services such as electricity, water and repairs.

The rest are absentee landlords who rent out their flats and don't bother paying factors bills - leaving the development more than £110,000 in debt.

Of the 370 flats only around 100 owners pay up. And more than 70 flats are in the process of being repossessed. Owners pay the price for rise in buy-to-let flats WITH more and more plush new flats going up all over Glasgow, some property experts fear other high-profile developments could suffer the same problems as Kingston Quay.

The main reason for trouble is the growing number of buy-to-let flats. The people or businesses who buy these properties do so solely to let them out and make money.

Many will have more than one flat in a development and some of the owners won't even live in Scotland.

Such developments are particularly attractive to investors, with buyers often offered cashback on properties and discounts on bulk buys.

A well-placed property source has told the Evening Times one investor bought 40 flats at Kingston Quay, pocketing up to £200,000 - £5000 cashback from every property - from builders Barratt.

It's claimed the investor has since failed to pay a penny to factors or mortgage lenders.

Unlike owner-occupiers who can be easily contacted, when absentee landlords don't pay their factor bill it can be difficult - sometimes impossible - to reach them and recoup the funds required to run the development.

Owner-occupiers who do pay are often responsible for making up the shortfall - until the situation reaches crisis point, as in the case of Kingston Quay.

Property manager Graham McEwan, of factors Property 2 which is not linked to Kingston Quay, said: "Many factors are very concerned about this problem. Absentee landlords only care about heads on beds.

"Big developments are most at risk.

"And, as developments become more complex - with lifts, garbage chutes, high-tech security - they are more expensive to run. Ultimately it's up to owners to pay their way."

A spokesman for the Property Managers' Association of Scotland added: "There comes a point when factors can't continue to fund maintenance or repairs."

Glasgow City Council denied the problem was growing.

A spokesman added: "We met property managers from one major development in the last few days to discuss this issue and found no evidence of a widescale problem."

Since LPM pulled out last month the communal building insurance policy at the Wallace Street development has become invalid and residents now fear their electricity and water will be cut off any day.

They say vital repairs to the two buildings have been ignored for years due to lack of funds and vandalism and underage drinking are rife because of broken security doors which have no chance of getting fixed.

According to residents the situation has become so serious, children who live there have been issued with panic alarms.

Those owner-occupiers who do pay their bills say they don't blame their factor for leaving.

They put the blame for the current situation firmly at the door of the absentee landlords.

And they say both property developer Barratt, which built the flats, and Glasgow City Council, which can chase up absentee landlords, should be doing more to help.

The company stepped in to fund the development's communal services two years ago when another factor, Hacking and Paterson, pulled out due to similar problems.

Now residents admit they don't know where to turn to get the site back on track.

Devastated Joyce Boyd bought her penthouse apartment almost three years ago for £289,000.

She recently had it valued and was told that due to the problems is now worth just £175,000.

Joyce, a teacher, who lives at the property with her 20-year-old daughter, says her property dream has turned into a nightmare.

The 45-year-old told the Evening Times: "The situation is a total disaster for myself and the other owner-occupiers. When I bought the flat I was told by Barratt that most of the others had been sold to owner-occupiers.

"It soon became clear this wasn't the case - the vast majority are rented out. I have always paid our services charges - more than £1000 a year - and for repairs, but the bills have piled up because others don't bother."

She added: "The lifts have been broken for two years, there's no security entry, the communal parts are filthy and there's holes in the walls.

"People feel afraid for the safety of their children. Neds drink in the communal corridors and last year a drug addict overdosed in the doorway.

"And that's not to mention the worry about losing the electricity, water and sewage services."

LPM says it had no choice but to pull out of managing the development.

Operations director David Reid said: "We had no option but to withdraw our management service from Kingston Quay due to the financial situation. When we tried to recoup the money due from debtors we found ourselves chasing shadows - people who seemingly didn't exist.

"We are sure residents understand our preference would be to continue given the effort, time and resource our staff have put into the development to date.

"We would be happy to return to Kingston Quay if we could be sure of getting payments."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Local authorities have limited powers in these matters but the council is doing everything possible within its powers to assist the owners and improve the situation."

Residents are also working with their MSP, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, to find a solution. Ms Sturgeon said: "This is an appalling situation. I am currently trying to set up a meeting with Barratt to see if this situation can be resolved, however they are being very unco-operative."

A Barratt spokesman said the firm was trying to help resolve the situation.

He added: "We strongly refute allegations the company mis-sold the development to any buyer in terms of investor content.

"The matter with regards to managing agents is down to the owners not paying the management costs for the development which they are legally bound to do.

"The company has supported the development during the past few years particularly regarding funding."