Locks from stairwell doors in flats and sheltered housing have been removed for health and safety reasons – prompting fears from residents.
Hyndburn Homes have removed locks from a number of two-storey buildings across the borough after advise from the fire service.
Fire bosses told Hyndburn Homes that occupants must be able to use stairwell doors without the need of a key in the event of a fire.
However this has provoked anger from residents who feel their homes are now open to intruders.
John Farrer, 65, who has lived in Mallard Place, Oswaldtwistle, for 21 years, said: “The locks were removed some time last week.
“They are telling us it is for health and safety reasons but I am disabled and can't move very easily so what does that mean for my safety to no longer have locks on the front doors.
“Somehow they have to come to a happy medium between health and safety and the individuals.”
He suggested having a key hidden away in a place where emergency services could access it if necessary.
Margaret Rothwell, 68, lives in flats on the John Street estate, Oswaldtwistle, and said she is worried about squatters coming in and sleeping in the corridors at night.
She said: “I have found empty bottles and all sorts. One of my neighbours has been teased and taunted by a group of youths through his window and now they can get right in and bother him.”
David Perry, neighbourhood manager for Hyndburn Homes, said their ‘hands were tied’ when it came to removing the locks.
He said: “The fire brigade have given us guidance and what they say is if you have got a final exit door then you should be able to get out of it without using a key.
“If there’s a fire, smoke or toxic fumes then you need to get out quickly so we had a choice of taking the locks out or risking someone’s life in the case of a fire. Our hands were tied.
“We are looking to do something about the locks but we are due to start replacing the doors and the locks with a rolling programme.
“If we can do any jobs cheaply and effectively which we feel might constitute value for money then we will do.”