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18/10/2016 - 8:44 pm
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Hi, I am after some advice about how to deal with a hoarder in my building. I own an apartment in NSW. The section of the building I live in has 6 units split over three levels. There is no elevator. On the top floor is an elderly resident (owner occupier) with a hoarding problem. The hoarding itself has not spread out into common property but the smell from the hoarding most certainly has. The smell permeates our apartment and common areas and it is truly rancid. It smells like rotten food and dead animals. Over the years (before we bought our unit) other residents have offered to help her clean out her unit but she has not accepted any offers of assistance. The smell is so revolting that I am now considering requesting that our strata manager take action under s117 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996. Can anyone advise whether there is any precedent for nuisance action related to smells other than cigarette smoke and how action under this section works? I have also considered whether action could be taken under other legislation, possibly something related to fire danger. 

I would appreciate any advice as summer is coming and the smell just gets worse on hot days!!!

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18/10/2016 - 10:07 pm
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This rang a bell with me and a did a quick search and up came this correspondence from five years ago.

Now the circumstances aren’t identical but there are similarities.  So what should you do?

First things first, the smell is a nuisance and the accumulated rubbish represents a potential health risk.  You would have grounds for getting orders under section 117 but that would be a lengthy process that could take two months, including a mediation that she probably won’t attend.

Alternatively, the EC could serve her with a notice demanding the place be cleaned out within seven days (offering any assistance you consider appropriate) and if she fails to do so (as she will) apply to NCAT for an interim order (S.170) allowing the EC or its contractors to enter the premises and clean the place out.

Before you do that, try to find a local health visitor or aged care visitor who can be there when this is happening to minimise the distress. in extreme circumstances, if there is no family there to look after her, you might want to look at legal guardianship services.

Best of luck

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