Council house and flat tenants have said they are bewildered after being told they can no longer use their lofts.
Dacorum Borough Council insists that the policy requiring tenants not to use their lofts for storage was already in place, but residents claim otherwise.
The council has said the policy is down to the ‘health and safety’ of residents, with the need for communal areas to be clear in case of inspection and potential fire risks.
And the council has pledged to crack down on offenders, saying: “If we need to remove your items from a loft or roof space in order to carry out any repairs or maintenance then we will charge you the cost of removal.
“If we identify the owner of items left in a communal roof space the minimum charge will be £40.”
But the move has dumbfounded tenants, including Garry Hughes, who has a council house in Lawn Lane in Hemel Hempstead.
He told the Gazette: “We all know that everyone uses their loft, so how are they going to enforce this?”
Responding to another angry resident on Facebook, the council’s housing services team, posted: “We would not visit individual houses to inspect lofts for stored items - we expect our tenants to act responsibly.
“If we need to carry out a repair and spend time removing items then a charge will be made.”
Mr Hughes added: “It’s just going to cause mayhem. It’s not been thought out and there doesn’t seem to be any logic behind it.”
Elliott Brooks, assistant director for housing at the council, said: “The tenancy agreement which all our tenants sign up to states that items
may not be stored in communal areas, which is any area of the block that does not form part of a lease or tenancy.
“Items stored in lofts could be a fire risk and prevent safe access when our contractors need to enter the loft space to carry out repairs.
“We also insulate our lofts to the required building regulations and storing items here can reduce performance.
“We are revising our Tenancy Agreement to make sure this approach is as clear as possible. We are due to include an article in the summer edition of ‘Housing News and Views’, our housing newsletter that goes to every one of our tenants and leaseholders.”
Mr Hughes added: “The fact that they are saying they need to make it clearer means they’re obviously aware that it wasn’t clear at all!
“Are elderly people going to have to get people round to clear their loft? Is there going to be more flytipping because of it?
“It’s incredible how much trouble this is going to cause.”