Preston: Families left with bare floors as ex-tenants told to rip out carpets - BBC News

2022-06-09 06:59:41 By : Ms. Lily Wang

By Eloise Maddocks BBC News

A woman has told how she has to live in a home with bare floors due to a policy which demands social housing tenants rip up carpets and flooring when they move out.

Danielle Spencer, 41, from Preston, said it was "heartbreaking" to sleep on a blow-up mattress on concrete and she was struggling to keep warm.

Her former home was destroyed by fire.

Progress Housing Group, which lets the accommodation, said it offered "lots of support to tenants moving in".

This included decoration vouchers and referrals to charities, it added.

The policy to rent out social housing fully unfurnished is meant to give new tenants a blank slate and prevent infestations but campaigners are asking for it to be reconsidered.

Ms Spencer said: "I'm walking round and I can't even take my shoes off.

"I lost all my possessions in the fire, so I'm having to use an airbed. There's no carpet underneath so it's only a matter of time until it's going to pop."

Ms Spencer, who has a 12-year-old daughter, said she was struggling to heat her home and feared she would "end up in debt".

"With energy prices rising it costs an absolute fortune," she said.

Another social housing tenant in Preston, who did not want to be identified after being forced to relocate as she fled from domestic violence, said her family was also living with no floor coverings.

She lost her job earlier in the coronavirus pandemic and had struggled to find money for new carpets or any organisations to help provide them.

She lives with her 17-year-old daughter and four-year old grandson, and said she was concerned about the effect it would have on them, adding: "I worry about how I'm going to make it a home."

Crisis schemes, run by local authorities, can provide support with furniture but only a few provide carpets or floorboards.

In Hertfordshire, while clearing her late mother's council house, Sarah Dillingham was told to remove the carpets, even though they had only been installed seven months earlier.

She said she asked the housing officer if the carpets could remain for the next tenant, but was told she would be fined if she left them in.

"I was absolutely dumbstruck," she said. "It just seemed so wasteful."

"It beggars belief that people are having to live in properties with bare floors, when people are willing to leave them if they are wanted," she added.

Some charities offer support to buy carpets, but they can struggle to cope with demand.

End Furniture Poverty, a campaign group which is urging social landlords to rethink the policy of stripping carpets, said flooring was an "essential item".

Head of policy, Claire Donovan, said: "They say it is because the flooring is dirty, or it may contain fleas if the previous tenants had pets, but in these cases it could be cleaned.

"Sadly it is quicker and cheaper to rip out the flooring rather than clean it."

"We urge social landlords to stop this at once and start thinking about the social and environmental cost," she added.

Progress Housing Group executive director, Tammy Bradley, said "predominantly floor coverings would be provided in kitchens and bathrooms only", but "on occasion, we do agree for floor coverings to be left".

However, she said: "Even in these situations when we come to do the property works, there may be cause to take up the flooring for various reasons."

She added that the company offered further support to tenants, including referrals to charities and help with employment or fleeing domestic violence.

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