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A woman from Preston is being forced to live with no carpets due to a bizarre housing rule.
Danielle Spencer lives with her two daughters 17 and 12, as well as her grandson, four. The mum was forced to move out of her former home after it was destroyed by a fire.
The 41-year-old moved into housing run by Progress Housing Group. Their policy states that state social housing tenants must rip up carpets and floorboards when they move out, giving new tenants a blank slate.
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Danielle said she now has to sleep on a blow up mattress and struggles to keep warm at home. She told the BBC : “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. With energy prices rising it costs an absolute fortune, I’m worried I’ll end up in debt.”
She also admitted how concerned she was for her children and grandchildren after being unable to afford to heat. Progress Housing Group claim that they offer “lots of support” to those moving in, but campaigners are asking for them to change the policy.
The bizarre rule has lead to other social housing tenants to come forward with similar problems to Danielle. One tenant, who did not want to be identified, said her family was living with no carpet either.
And having lost her job in the pandemic, she has little money for new carpets and has been unable to seek any organisations who can assist her. Local authorities such as Crisis schemes can offer support with furniture but are limited with carpets or floorboards they are able to provide.
The demand from housing residents is soaring with some charities unable to cope with the increasing demands of tenants. Campaign group End Furniture Poverty is pressing social landlords to revamp the policy of stripping carpets, adding flooring was “an essential item”.
Claire Donovan, head of policy at End Furniture Poverty, 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.”
Progress Housing Group executive director, Tammy Bradley, 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.” They added: “Predominantly floor coverings would be provided in kitchens and bathrooms only”, but “on occasion, we do agree for floor coverings to be left”.
The housing group offers support to tenants, including referrals to charities and help with employment or feeling domestic violence.