Arena Housing has thousands of social homes in the North West
A housing association has apologised for sending "intimidating" rental reminder cards to tenants.
The cards show a spring lamb with the message: "Are you for the chop this spring? Pay your rent on time."
They were sent out by Arena Housing, which has 14,000 social homes across Merseyside and the North West.
A spokesman for the company said the cards, which one tenant said he found intimidating, "should never have got out there".
The tenant, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "The Mafia and other criminals who wish to intimidate their victims have traditionally used a coded message of an animal about to die, or dead.
"Today this approach has been adopted by a major housing association to threaten its tenants."
He added: "Arena Housing is one of the largest providers of social housing in the North West.
"They have a particular duty to support the vulnerable and elderly in their care."
Arena Housing director Karl Dean apologised unreservedly.
He said: "We appreciate we have got it absolutely wrong.
"It should never have got out there but it was an idea that ended up in the big wide world.
"We apologise for any offence caused."