What can I do if my neighbour is a hoarder and clutters up the common corridor?, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

What can I do if my neighbour is a hoarder and clutters up the common corridor?

This article is more than 12 months old

Hoarding is in the spotlight again, after two fires broke out this month in Housing Board flats and claimed a life. The residents in one unit had a habit of leaving items in the common corridor, while the other flat was piled high with bags, clothes and newspapers.

Hoarding in common areas can pose a fire safety threat for other residents by obstructing fire-fighting efforts and evacuation routes. Here are some guidelines on the issue.

Q: Can I store things along the common corridor?

A: While the storage of combustible materials is not permitted, shoe racks can be placed there, according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) website.

A 1.2m-wide passage should be maintained, and no objects should be placed along common corridors that are less than this width, it added.

Drying racks can be placed if they are easily folded and removed in an emergency.

Q: What can I do if my neighbour hoards?

A: Residents can approach their town council.

If the hoarding behaviour causes public health and safety concerns, residents can report it through the OneService app, for flagging municipal issues such as pests.

Residents can try to befriend their neighbours and understand their reasons for hoarding, said Habitat for Humanity Singapore, a charity that helps people who hoard.

They can also notify family service centres or social service offices in the area about home owners who might need help, it added.

Q: What will happen after I flag a hoarding case?

A: HDB officers will carry out inspections.

Cases are assessed and prioritised based on whether there is a threat to public health and safety.

For severe cases, regulatory agencies can enter the home to assess the situation, said the Ministry of National Development.

For example, the National Environment Agency can intervene for vector or mosquito issues, and SCDF if what is hoarded includes flammable materials such as petroleum and paint thinner.

SCDF also works with town councils and condominium managements to tackle hoarding in common areas.

Q: What if the resident refuses to cooperate?

A: The town council will issue a summons after advisory notices are served, and notify relevant agencies to follow up with the parties involved, said Sengkang Town Council. It will try to persuade the resident and assist with clearing the items. If they pose a fire hazard, it will get SCDF to approach the resident.

The authorities may also take enforcement action, said Yuhua MP Grace Fu.

This includes setting a date to clear the clutter, and providing manpower to do so on the set date.

Q: Are inspections conducted to detect hoarding cases?

A: Staff conduct regular inspections to ensure common corridors are not obstructed, Sengkang Town Council said. Where required, they engage proactively with residents to discourage them from cluttering these areas.

The town council also taps a contractor to perform routine checks and advise residents to clear items discarded in the common corridor area.

Q: What else is being done to address the longstanding issue of hoarding?

A: Town councils provide free removal services to assist residents with the disposal of bulky items in the common corridor.

Residents can arrange for the service with the town council and place the items outside their units on the day of collection, said Sengkang Town Council.

HDB advises residents on the safety hazard, while the Agency for Integrated Care works with residents known to hoard, to remove the items.