Twisted Firestarter – Tenant Hoarding Newspapers

by Readers Question

4 years ago

Twisted Firestarter – Tenant Hoarding Newspapers

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Twisted Firestarter – Tenant Hoarding Newspapers

Twisted Firestarter - Tenant Hoarding Newspapers

I have a crazy tenant, who is a bit of a hoarder. She is a lovely old lady, pays her bills on-time and is really a dream tenant apart from her newspaper collection from 1984.

I would be grateful if you could let me know…… in the event of a fire, do I have a legal obligation or liability for her actions?

Am I a bad landlord for not making sure she keeps the clutter down?

Thanks

Ben



Comments

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Hi Ben

I had a very similar scenario, except that my tenant was in his 40's. He packed the spare room with old newspapers to the rafters and stayed there for 14 years until he decided he needed a larger property. I have always wondered whether he had simply run out of room for his collection!

Fortunately it was a ground floor flat so I didn't have to worry about the floor collapsing!

My theory was that as this was his private collection and that he has a right to peaceful enjoyment then all was fine. I didn't give much thought to the fire hazard as piles of newspapers don't burn as easily as you might think. A pair of net curtains would flare up a lot quicker in the event of a fire.

When he moved out the carpets were still as good as the day he moved in 14 years earlier 🙂
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Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/06/2014 - 11:55":

Mark - only you could find such a great positive spin on such a hoarder !!!

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

LOL - 14 years of rent being paid on time AND carpets left as they found them is not to be sniffed at. I wish he was still there!
.

Difficult one.

You're not the tenant's mother so, as long as she's causing no harm to people or property she's free to run her life as she wishes (and collect as many newspapers as she likes).

The fear is that it will escalate. There is a recognised psychiatric condition whose name escapes me, but it leads people to hoard everything including things that are (to put it mildly) very unsanitary and living in conditions which can ultimately be deadly. If she's in the early stages of that you've got a real problem brewing.

If I was managing the property I'd be doing management visits every three months and monitoring the situation. Call me heartless but if there was clear evidence that the situation was deteriorating I'd be recommending to the landlord that he serves a Section 21.

Incidentally, if you called me heartless I'd point out that I'm not a social worker. I'm neither qualified nor capable of helping someone with a complex psychiatric problem and I'd be doing her no favours by leaving her in there to fester.

On the upside, perhaps we're worrying unnecessarily and she just loves reminiscing about what happened in 1984.

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "10/06/2014 - 12:06":

I have heard of much worse problems. I can't find the thread but in one property a landlord discovered a room full of hoarded take-away boxes. Upon opening them he found they were full of human faeces! YUK!
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Adam Hosker

4 years ago

Perhaps asking your Local Environmental Health what they think. It is quite possible they may find it a detrimental to his health and others - requesting he take action regarding his living habits.

It is a medical disorder; so do be weary of being too strong on this. It could look bad if turned against you.

Robert Hayes

4 years ago

Fire service hat (well, helmet) on rather than my landlord's one for a moment

You could do worse than let your local fire authority know

Hoarding is far more common than you'd imagine and fire authorities are trained and have been dealing with the issue (very sensitively, may I add) for a while now, often in conjunction with other agencies

If an abnormal fire load in a property starts to affect other's safety (ie in flats / terraced housing) then clearly some form of action needs to be taken

Also your local fire crew will thank you for the 'heads up' should they ever attend the property in an emergency

Ian Narbeth

4 years ago

Ben
You need to consider your property insurance. There may well be conditions in the policy about storing flammable materials. Even if there are not, the presence of so many papers may be a matter that might "affect the mind of a prudent insurer" and therefore should be reported to insurers. You do not want to find the policy is voided!
Ian

kaite saul

4 years ago

I am the kind of tenant that you are talking about, I had a 2nd bedroom filled with papers and boxes of things. I am not proud of it but before you know it got out of hand, I now look at it was it a way to have some senses of control because I felt a lack of control regarding everything in my life and a huge sense of grief to do with a relative that had died.

It is a form of OCD and my letting agents saw how it was and said it was not a problem and it was the same as if I was collecting Russian dolls, there words.

I guess you manage the property, does it bother you?, do you have other issues with the tenant. My hording was controlled to one room, if if is a problem talk to the lady. Explain that you need to get her to get rid of it, say that if she can start a bag a week.

I would say that works better than getting Environmental health straight in, talk to her first of all.

I have since moved out into a another flat and I no longer have the problem as such I keep a check on it.

It is weird that you have the this attachment to paper, she could have other issues going on, lonely etc.

I hope this helps.

Say that it is becoming a problem if it is, do it gently and say can she start going through it.

Rosamund Evans

4 years ago

These situations do need to be treated with sensitivity but they should not be ignored. Kaite is right, often the best approach is to start a dialogue with the tenant about their behaviour before bringing in environmental health or other agencies because of the possible underlying causes of the problem. There are charities who offer support for people who find that their hording is getting out of control.

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