We have recently written to all customers regarding the communal areas at their building and the need to keep these clear of personal items.
We have recently been made aware of an issue with the communal grounds at some of our flat blocks. It has been reported that residents have been unable to fully access the area because of private property being left there. After looking into this further, we have become increasingly concerned about the health and safety of residents using communal areas. To ensure all residents can use the communal grounds safely and fairly we are requesting that the following items are removed from the communal grounds:
- Play equipment. This includes but is not limited to slides, swing sets, and trampolines.
- Items that impact upon the grounds maintenance. This includes but is not limited to large or multiple plant pots in the middle of gardens, tables, chairs, and sun loungers.
- Items that are fixed to the ground or wall without prior permission. This includes but is not limited to washing lines, hanging baskets, and hose pipes.
We understand and accept that asking residents to remove their play equipment from communal gardens will be an unpopular ask for some of our residents, and it is not something we would ask without good reason. Following conversations with our insurers, they have advised us that if an incident were to occur as a result of the use of these items (detailed above or similar), it is not covered by our insurance policy.
Various options have been explored with our insurers and legal team to understand if a waiver or similar document could be signed to allow residents to continue to use this equipment and they have advised us that this is not possible. Residents would be required to have adequate Public Liability Cover, for at least £5 million and the equipment would need to be insured under a maintenance policy. Regular inspections would also have to be carried out by an approved surveyor in line with Health and Safety regulations to ensure it is in a good state of repair and fit for use.
We do not want discourage children from playing in or bringing their own toys out into communal gardens, but we are requesting that areas are kept clear when not in use.
From receipt of the aforementioned letter, residents will have 14 days to remove items from communal gardens, otherwise we will remove and dispose of any items left in communal areas and take appropriate enforcement action under the terms of the tenancy or lease. This includes serving notice under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 – a copy will be delivered to every flat in the block stating when the items must be removed by. This will normally be seven days.
We know this will have an impact on residents, and we are truly sorry for this, however, we have been left with no other choice given the terms of our insurance policy. We understand that residents may not have space to store these items in their flats, and as such may consider selling items that are unable to be stored outside on websites such as Gumtree, Nextdoor, or Facebook Marketplace.