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Hoarders in condo association potentially creating fire hazard

Posted on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 @ 08:09 AM

We are a condo complex of 86 buildings; four units each, two townhouses, one terrace and one ranch in New York State. We have a well run board and a great management company. We have two hoarders and neighbors in those units are fearful of fire. The fire marshal has access to the garages, but owners will not let him into their condo. Our attorneys say this is a probable "mental health issue". I note that the condo law in NY City does allow them entrance into high rise units for safety reasons. What can we do to gain access to these units for the safety of all. I would appreciate your suggestions.



You answered your own question... 
I note that the condo law in NY City does allow them entrance into high rise units for safety reasons. 
That is a safety issue and you could call the health department also.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 8:26 AM by Walter Ward

I am always cautious about the big arm of Government. What if these people were intellectuals who possessed many books ? Would they have to get rid of them? Excessive clothes? Some people project the worst and then act as if it were true. Perhaps insistence on proper fire and smoke detectors along with appropriate fire extinguisher might seem reasonable. Some people have too much time on their hands and a propensity towards negative thinking. I know, I live in a place like that. Any friend who comes over is a "renter" The association threatens to tow cars, They purposely have no parking program with appropriate system in place so that they can do what they want. I have declared this as my primary residence but if I am not there 24/7 I am seen as not living there. The oftentimes insanity of community living. I am all for the sense of community but I detest when it morphs into negativity and is more concerned with power and control than each other. Those who seek power often do it for the wrong reasons. They often have one set of rules for others that they themselves do not abide by. The utilization of fear and intimidation are the mark of bullies, not leaders.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 8:37 AM by Jim Court

any attorney can get orders signed by judge to have police, fire, city and county reps access this unit with jsut cause - seems like a no brainer - take correct steps thru legal system and you have a safey/fire hazard eliminated

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 8:37 AM by jim

Sometimes it is best to keep out of other peoples' business. If there isn't a specific rule they are breaking, the Board has to stay out of it. Mind your own business... 
The condo board is not the CONDO DADDY.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 9:03 AM by Larry Weiss

-----Jim Court and Larry Weiss said it all. "A man's home is his castle" and no matter what the appearance is of his sty, it's still his sty.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 9:12 AM by Frank - MA

Our bylaws say that under as much prior notice as possible under the circumstances,the manager and any other person authorized by the board of directors shall have the right to enter any unit in case of any emergency originating in or threatening such unit or adjoining common elements whether or not the owner is present at the time.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 10:03 AM by R

What is the association responsibility here? 
Neighbors are "fearful" of fire. Have a fire inspection to ease their concerns. Have an insurance inspection to ease their concerns. Fire can start for many, many reasons. The person that is as neat freak can start a fire because they love candles. A cooking fire can start by accident. A smoker can start a fire by falling asleep with a lit cigarette or cigar. A person can overload a circuit. 
Has the board asked those co-owners that are complaining or reporting their concerns WHY they are concerned? What makes them concerned about a fire? 
I can see both sides, but as I get older and after a decade of experience, I can say the best thing that people can do is urge neighbors to be neighborly and to Mind Your Own Business. 
Too often, members and board members get caught up in What If instead of what is.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 10:19 AM by Joe Schuirmann

It would be nice to know how many actually live in a condo? I do for the last 35 years and mind my own business. This is my business, I own part of the building. Have someone legal check and if all OK noone is hurt. Be safe unstead of sorry.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 10:45 AM by Walter Ward

This Mind Your Own Businees mentality causes a lot of trouble in associations because some folks (and after reading many of the blogs on this web site, maybe a LOT of folks)do not want to get involved in the operation of the association. But someone has to be involved; the place doe not run by magic. That's why there are bylaws, rules, etc. and a board of directors (or trustees, etc.). They are responsible for watching out for the folks. So have a little common sense and stop telling questioners to do all kinds of things and stick to "What do the govering documents say" and "Contact your Board". Especially stay away from recommending contacting an attorney. Why spend YOUR money if there is a need to contact an attorney, let the association do it.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:00 AM by R

Anyone that suspects hoarding of residents within their association premises and doesn't take some kind of action I believe is putting the entire community. 
If in fact these two people have an addiction to hoarding, it is definitely a hazard in so many ways. People to many times act like hoarding is not a problem but in fact it is a disease and people die from the grips of it's addiction. Com'on people have you seen the award winning reality show named "Hoarding, Buried Alive." on The Learning Channel. That's real stuff, believe it or not. 
So to make a statement such as "mind your own business," is irresponsible as well as not having much compassion for a fellow neighbor that apparently is in trouble and unfortunately can not ask for help.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:05 AM by MIchael

I can understand the concern for safety and preservation of property. My question is what evidence do you have that these persons are hoarders? Are thes assumptions or facts?

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:10 AM by serola

Isn't it presumptive to assume the worst case scenario? Serola correctly ask if this is an assumption or facts. Yes, hoarding to an extreme degree indicates emotional issues but this is not malicious criminal behavior. If the board is concerned why don't you politely knock on the door, explain that there are some concerns, and IF there is a genuine problem, offer to get them help to alleviate this. Treat others with respect, as neighbors, and as part f the greater community. The adversarial approach is as dysfunctional as the hoarding, Some people hoard grudges and nurse them to death.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 1:02 PM by Jim Court

I co-owned my condo with a hoarder. It was a constant fire hazard. I was constantly having to check plugs, over flowing ash trays, feces pilled under clothes, etc. I had to hire a bio-hazard unit to clean her area it was such a health hazard.  
My solution, I bought her out and sent her packing. It's easy for others to say mind your own business but unless you've been subjected to a hoarder you have no idea. Clue, the hoarder's filth can crawl over to your condo in the form of fleas, roaches, bed bugs, etc. Let's see you cry mind your own business then.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:41 PM by Renee E Hughes

My condo board, that I am a member of, suspected a unit of being a hoarder's unit but we had no way to gain access to find out. Neighbors on either side of the unit could see that something weird was going on. After two years of trying to foreclose and get the owner out of there we finally were able to go into the unit to see what was going on. To our horror the person had been living in the attic crawl space and hoarding on the two floors of his townhouse. It was extremely hazardous to the neighbors and we are all relieved that the unit is now out of his hands. If there is any way possible to get these hoarders inspected and reported I will find out. This type of situation is not a case of MYOB but a case of the board doing their fiduciary duty to protect the value and well being of the community.

posted @ Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:57 PM by Renee

On 8/22/2012 at 10:30AM posted by R - 
I think your bylaws sound like what we need. My question to you...did you have to ask for a key to all units. We have considered this, but would rather not be responsible for all those keys. Thanks, G

posted @ Monday, September 03, 2012 9:34 AM by Gail

I’m a property manager in Miami. I had a number of fire extinguishers installed by Premier Fire Alarms at the condo that I manage.They were very professional, cleaned up after the installation and also handle the servicing/ maintenance. I would recommend them to anyone. Check out their website www.premierfirefl.com or call (954) 797-7692

posted @ Wednesday, October 31, 2012 8:24 AM by Greg

You'd better have those fire alarm systems armed and ready then!

posted @ Wednesday, November 06, 2013 2:49 PM by Charles Neslon

most definitely these people have a mental sickness which they are blinded from seeing what they are doing. they are a danger to all around them and themselves especially. they are only violent to others if you touch their stuff. The danger is fires, structural damage to the building or unit from weight if on 2nd story to flooring/ceiling. Bed bugs from them and infested with rats and mice, cock roaches and any number of other creatures. We had to go to court to have some one removed from property from doing this very issue - a sick person who needed help but would not receive it when offered. Police, judges and social workers all became invold. City housing inspector - for the safety of neighbors and building and Hoa property it had to be done. For all the liberals out there in La-La-Land who thinks this was a mean thing to do, I will send this hoarder person over to your place and you can take care of them. congrats on accepting this offer

posted @ Wednesday, November 06, 2013 3:47 PM by j

One thing that all hoarders have in common is an inability to perceive that anything is wrong with having an inability to use portions or most of their homes due to piles of collected items stashed in the living spaces. 
Hoarding can vary in severity. I have seen homes so hoarded where there is only a narrow path to walk through, and portions of the homes stacked from floor to ceiling with items. 
It is possible your docs might address using units for storage. Certainly while one might feel compassion due to their mental illness, it cannot be allowed to get in the way of common sense.  
Hoarding must not be taken lightly, and can be addressed on many fronts, and I suggest the danger to the lives of the hoarder and those around them have the first priority. Do not be surprised that the hoarder will not co-operate, as their sole goal is keeping the hoard intact. Be persistent in using all the legal means available, such as getting citations for violation of city codes, condo doc remedies, fire, association fines etc.

posted @ Thursday, November 07, 2013 6:20 AM by serola

This is a very interesting situation, and I think that it could be a problem. It could become dangerous for those that live next to them, in case they do catch on fire. I think that it will be best to have them stop for everyone's safety. However, maybe there should be some fire prevention services and accessible fire extinguishers for the other condo owners in the meantime. http://www.inlandfireprotectionco.com/fire-extinguishers.html

posted @ Friday, September 12, 2014 3:48 PM by Julie Myers

Is hoarding a mental illness? There are so many more mental illnesses coming up in people. I think mental illnesses are more serious than people think. Pharmacies are becoming more busy because of this surge of illnesses. http://www.prattscompoundingpharmacy.com

posted @ Friday, September 19, 2014 7:25 PM by bobby roosco

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