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Neighbour is an in-house fire hazard
caperteewaratah
Newbie
01/01/2013 - 9:44 am
Member Since: 01/01/2013
Forum Posts: 1
Offline

I am not renting any more but being an aged care nurse I understand the situation. Relatives who talk about how their aging parent was before they went into care - often relate similar stories. Sounds like a difficult situation when you are the tenant and the impaired person is the owner of the property. I would have thought that the fire brigade would be able to make a report to police. Insurance companies sometimes refuse to pay when there are cases of repeated claims for the same thing. I knew someone who kept crashing his car - over 6 times! The insurance company refused to pay any more. The person went into care but was in denial as were all the relatives except the wife who was copping flack from the relatives who were also "in denial". 

The fact that this owner is "in denial" shouts out to me early dementia. Symptom being - lack of cognition, not being able to recognise the fact that they are endangering themselves and others, leaving the stove on or whatever has caused this. I have seen elderly people put things in microwaves turn them onto one hour or more and then there is a fire. Or the other one is putting metal containers into microwaves. But they always say - nothing wrong with me. Mind your own business.

I would be extremely alarmed at an elderly person causing fires in a shared building. You could be asleep or out and find the place on fire. I would not be worried about "offending anyone" That is nonsense when your life and others is in danger from an impaired person. The executive committee does have a duty of care to make sure that this is not repeated. Sounds like it has already happened once too many times. I don't know the legal ramifications of living in one of these apartments. All I know is - that person is a hazard and needs an ACAT assesment - that is Aged Care assesment team - the person should have had this done after the fire - the only way this could have happened to get them on the "alert" list is if they went to hospital after the fire with smoke inhalation or similar.

We all think we live in a society where we have rights but in these cases the impaired person is recalcitrant and resistive - and no one is willing to step on someones "rights" when it means they are removed from their home. If you know his relatives you could maybe contact them. 

Sounds like he is in decline and will eventually have to go into care, but the very nature of dementia means the person is suspicious, confused, disorientated, forgetful and because they are not aware this is happening - in denial. Someone other than him needs to take action. It might have to be you.

struggler
NSW
StrataGuru
07/08/2012 - 7:59 pm
Member Since: 02/11/2010
Forum Posts: 449
Offline

We have a neighbour in our complex who was in need of help. Made enquiries with agencies and charities, churches etc and was told that they could provide assistance - but the neighbours had to ask for it, we could not just get someone to go over. This was impossible as the neighbour did not think they had a problem.

This neighbour has no relatives close by. We did manage to inform his doctor of our concerns. It was not until someone in the complex found this neighbour in a terrible state and took him to the medical centre and then on to hospital that any real action could be taken in terms of his ongoing care.

There is a core group of neighbours who have looked out for this neighbour. But through the ordeals of the past 12 months or so, the rest of the "community" have not enquired or apparently noticed the obvious physical absence of this neighbour. The unit hasnt been sold, no for lease sign for the property (they would have noticed that!) this neighbour who went to every single AGM and always had something to say, who always stopped to say hello and wave to those who drove by has not been seen or heard from in months. But no one has expressed any concern.

In a place where you do live in close proximity, where when you leave your unit you walk past someone else's front door and can see into their home, where you share garbage bins and walls, you would think that merely by this forced closeness there would evolve a sense of community and awareness of others. Not in this strata though.

IBC
Sponsor
06/08/2012 - 9:02 pm
Member Since: 29/06/2012
Forum Posts: 52
Offline

Hi Jimmy,

Great Reserch and advice as always, the forum is very fortunate to have your imput and contributions.

Regards Chris Mo'ane

JimmyT said

QUESTION: Our building was on fire again today.  The elderly owner concerned has caused fires in the building many times in the past few years.

The owner, who needs nursing home care, thinks that because he owns the unit, nothing can be done to force him to leave. Do we have to wait until the whole building burns down before we take some action? Does the EC have a duty of care? Mrs Maker, via Forum

ANSWER: As our population grows older and increasingly isolated it’s no surprise, I suppose, that I’m hearing increasing reports of residents who are not only a danger to themselves but, especially in strata, to those living around them.

This is really tricky area and one where most of us would love to be able to do something constructive but are reluctant to interfere with our neighbours’ lives. But if strata really is community – and when family structures are often non-existent – somebody has to step up, for everyone’s sake.  And while the Executive Committee can help organise things, this is more of a community responsibility than a legal duty.

Once the neighbours’ fear for their lives has overcome their natural reticence, the questions arise, who do they call and what questions do they ask? I made a few inquiries on a hypothetical basis and the one reassuring message I got from the agencies who can help is that their first priority is to the individual who’s in trouble.

Assuming (as I know is the case in Mrs Maker’s block) neighbours want to help this person, they can try to get a community carer employed via Aged Care Australia. If there’s already an unofficial carer in place, they can get a lot of support and advice there too. The place to start is the Aged Care website which offers practical links to available services.

If the resident’s condition is a lot more serious, for instance if they have a decision-making disability that means they are partially or wholly incapable of looking after themselves, it may be necessary to have a legal guardian appointed.

By the way, only a professional can make that initial assessment but if that’s the best option, the guardian can then make decisions about how and where the neighbour lives. You’ll find more information about guardianships on the  various websites for NSW, QueenslandVictoria, ACT, WA, Tasmania or South Australia.

 

If the resident has a diagnosed mental illness, a doctor familiar with their case or their principal carer can apply for a Community Treatment Order (CTO) which lets patients stay in their home provided they accept necessary treatment and management. If that’s not appropriate, they can also be admitted for residential care.

For more information have a look at the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal’s website (or go online for advice in the ACT, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, WA or Tasmania), then talk to their doctor or principal carer about the best options.

By the way, alcoholism is not considered a mental illness but in extreme cases where the person or their family or neighbours’ lives are at serious risk, police have an admittedly rarely used power to detain the person and apply for a court order requiring them to undertake residential rehabilitation.

The last three options are pretty extreme, but if you have an elderly neighbor who’s a potential danger to themselves or those living around them, and there’s no one looking after them, start with Aged Care Australia to see what the best next step might be.

People do slip through the support services net occasionally and if you do feel something needs to be done, there’s no need to feel guilty:  whoever you call is going to have the best interests of your neighbor at heart. You can read the original posting in full by scrolling down to the bottom of this topic

Chris Mo’ane AIAMA, MASBC-CPC -- GMD Integrated Consultancy Group -- Building Consultants, Engineers and Strata Consultancy -- Principal Sponsors OCN, -- Corporate Members SCA, FPA -- Email enquiries@ibc.net.au
JimmyT
Admin
28/07/2012 - 11:15 am
Member Since: 06/01/2014
Forum Posts: 2876
Offline

QUESTION: Our building was on fire again today.  The elderly owner concerned has caused fires in the building many times in the past few years.

The owner, who needs nursing home care, thinks that because he owns the unit, nothing can be done to force him to leave. Do we have to wait until the whole building burns down before we take some action? Does the EC have a duty of care? Mrs Maker, via Forum

ANSWER: As our population grows older and increasingly isolated it’s no surprise, I suppose, that I’m hearing increasing reports of residents who are not only a danger to themselves but, especially in strata, to those living around them.

This is really tricky area and one where most of us would love to be able to do something constructive but are reluctant to interfere with our neighbours’ lives. But if strata really is community – and when family structures are often non-existent – somebody has to step up, for everyone’s sake.  And while the Executive Committee can help organise things, this is more of a community responsibility than a legal duty.

Once the neighbours’ fear for their lives has overcome their natural reticence, the questions arise, who do they call and what questions do they ask? I made a few inquiries on a hypothetical basis and the one reassuring message I got from the agencies who can help is that their first priority is to the individual who’s in trouble.

Assuming (as I know is the case in Mrs Maker’s block) neighbours want to help this person, they can try to get a community carer employed via Aged Care Australia. If there’s already an unofficial carer in place, they can get a lot of support and advice there too. The place to start is the Aged Care website which offers practical links to available services.

If the resident’s condition is a lot more serious, for instance if they have a decision-making disability that means they are partially or wholly incapable of looking after themselves, it may be necessary to have a legal guardian appointed.

By the way, only a professional can make that initial assessment but if that’s the best option, the guardian can then make decisions about how and where the neighbour lives. You’ll find more information about guardianships on the  various websites for NSW, QueenslandVictoria, ACT, WA, Tasmania or South Australia.

 

If the resident has a diagnosed mental illness, a doctor familiar with their case or their principal carer can apply for a Community Treatment Order (CTO) which lets patients stay in their home provided they accept necessary treatment and management. If that’s not appropriate, they can also be admitted for residential care.

For more information have a look at the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal’s website (or go online for advice in the ACT, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, WA or Tasmania), then talk to their doctor or principal carer about the best options.

By the way, alcoholism is not considered a mental illness but in extreme cases where the person or their family or neighbours’ lives are at serious risk, police have an admittedly rarely used power to detain the person and apply for a court order requiring them to undertake residential rehabilitation.

The last three options are pretty extreme, but if you have an elderly neighbor who’s a potential danger to themselves or those living around them, and there’s no one looking after them, start with Aged Care Australia to see what the best next step might be.

People do slip through the support services net occasionally and if you do feel something needs to be done, there’s no need to feel guilty:  whoever you call is going to have the best interests of your neighbor at heart. You can read the original posting in full by scrolling down to the bottom of this topic

IBC
Sponsor
11/07/2012 - 8:55 pm
Member Since: 29/06/2012
Forum Posts: 52
Offline

Hi what a problem. I see three issues for your strata scheme:

1) Have you any rights regarding the removal of the lot Owner and in particular on grounds of diminished capacity, it's a very emotional issue and will require getting some legal advice. I would suggest that you may also make some inquiries to government departments that deal with senior citizen issues.

2) Is the level of fire protection adequate to the complex to protect life and property if a fire to this Owners unit, or in fact any unit; to a level that would see minimal damage result from a full on fire to this persons unit or any unit.
You have not stated the extent of any of the fires to date, however if you are unable to have the gentleman move into adequate care as he may need, the only other option may be to have your fire services reviewed and possibly upgraded so as to as best as possible stop the spread of fire to another unit or the common property.

3) It is only a matter of time that the Fire Brigade will take an interst in your building and carry out a fire compliance review or ask Council to do so, which only ever results in a fire order to upgrade the fire services to the complete strata complex.

Unfortunatly I don't have any solid advice or suggestions, I think the executive committee needs to work out a strategy to how they best look after the lot Owner in a sympathetic way, but also protect the interest of the remaining owners at the same time. Possibly a starting point could be trying to make contact with his family and talk about your concern for both him and he OC. Best of luck.

If you need to look at issue 2) or have a visit from the Fire Brigadge or Council give Integrated a call as we can help.

Chris Mo'ane AIAMA, MASBC-CPC
GMD Intigrated Consultancy Group
Engineers and Building Consultants
Principal Sponsor OCN, Corportae Members of SCA and FPA

Chris Mo’ane AIAMA, MASBC-CPC -- GMD Integrated Consultancy Group -- Building Consultants, Engineers and Strata Consultancy -- Principal Sponsors OCN, -- Corporate Members SCA, FPA -- Email enquiries@ibc.net.au
mrsmaker
Newbie
11/07/2012 - 2:22 pm
Member Since: 03/06/2011
Forum Posts: 2
Offline

Our building was on fire again today; fire engine attended; the fire started in one Unit.  The elderly owner concerned has caused fire in the building many times in the past few years due to his negligence.

I have asked for immediate action by the Executive Committee: By Laws, Sections 116 and 117 “ You must not use or enjoy your lot in such a way which might cause a nuisance or hazard to another resident”.

The owner, who needs Nursing Home care, seems to think that because he owns the unit, nothing can be done to force him to leave.

 Do we have to wait until the whole building burns down, with probable tragic outcomes, before we take some action?

Does the Executive Committee have a duty of care to do something?

Any suggestions?

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