YORKSHIRE Coast Homes have said sorry for the upset caused by a new policy which requires tenants to get rid of decorative items outside their homes.
However, the social landlord has insisted the new ruling will be enforced in the interests of residents’ safety.
Despite protests, items including welcome mats, pictures and pot plants have been banned from communal areas outside tenants’ homes as they could potentially pose a risk in the case of fire.
Mike Randall, Yorkshire Coast Homes head of housing services, said: “We are acutely conscious that communal entrances have been made more welcoming by some tenants who have provided carpeting and furnishings in these areas.
“We will be endeavouring to introduce the policy in a sensitive manner and discussing with tenants what needs to be done.
“Yorkshire Coast Homes would like to apologise for any upset caused. The decision has not been taken lightly.”
The policy was introduced following a risk assessment which focuses on means of escape from fires. All social housing providers are required by law to carry out the assessments.
Mr Randall said that in the event of fire, even everyday items could be hazardous to residents and the emergency services.
He said: “Innocent items can be trip and safety hazards in the event of an outbreak of fire or may give off toxic fumes.
“The letter and leaflet which introduced the policy to residents gave a period of grace for items to be removed.”
He added: “It is appreciated that in this day and age some health and safety measures are regarded as going too far, but the line being taken has the safety of our residents as being paramount to all other considerations.”
Inspections of communal areas will be carried out by Yorkshire Coast Homes in coming weeks.
They have promised to discuss issues with residents and have offered to remove items free of charge.
Previously, Yorkshire Coast Homes had encouraged residents to cultivate plants.
They organised a category in the Scarborough in Bloom competition which was open to tenants who garden predominantly or solely in containers.
At a meeting of Castle Ward Tenants’ and Residents’ Association last week angry tenants said they would fight to keep their plants and other items.
Chairman Janet Jefferson said she would invite representatives from the fire service and Yorkshire Coast Homes to discuss the issue at the group’s next meeting on June 28.