The purpose of this document is to explain the policy for Working with Tenants Who Hoard. This includes social housing, affordable housing, and transitional housing.
Housing Plus is committed to ensuring that our houses and communities are places where people want to live and feel safe. It is necessary to ensure that the safety of tenants is paramount and that they all live in comfortable conditions.
The Working with Tenants Who Hoard Policy supplements Housing Plus’ fire safety policy arrangements and contributes to the health and safety management system established and in place.
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance in managing tenants and household members who are identified as people with hoarding tendencies.
Housing Plus will start a tenancy in accordance with:
Both the client and Housing Plus have rights and obligations under the above Acts, the residential tenancy agreement and this policy.
Term: Hoarding Disorder
Definition: Hoarding Disorder is a psychiatric condition (Diagnostic Statistical Manual V) characterised by excessive collecting and extreme inability to discard worthless objects. In some cases, it can lead to squalid conditions that interfere with normal living, which in turn can affect the health, safety and quality of life for the sufferer and those who live with them, their neighbours and the community.
Tenants in New South Wales have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
They also have obligations which include:
It is recognised amongst professionals that work with hoarding that agency intervention has a low success rate and that reoccurrence of hoarding is high.
Multi-agency approaches are often the most effective and long-term support is recommended.
Hoarding can be brought to Housing Plus staff attention through many different ways including:
When a hoarding issue is first identified, review the tenant management record to see if a previous issue has been identified. It is important to see if any support agencies are involved with the tenant already.
It is important to use all the avenues available to you to undertake an assessment of the tenant’s care of the property.
Housing Plus will utilise the Hoarding Screening Assessment Form as a standard tool that can be utilised during routine property inspections. This tool will provide an initial assessment to inform (Service name) as it plans intervention with the tenant to manage the hoarding or squalor identified.
Housing Plus may also utilise the Clutter Image Rating Scale and the Environmental Cleanliness Clutter Scale as a means of accurately recording the extent of hoarding or squalor at a given point in time within a property.
Where family and friends are already involved and willing to cooperate, their assistance can be valuable and it can give insight into the tenant’s situation. It is important to manage this sensitively. The priority has to remain on engaging with the tenant personally where ever possible.
Where an individual is already engaging with a support service, work with the tenant and support service to establish a discussion about the hoarding issues.
Where an individual is not engaged with a support service, but appears to be open to accepting a referral for support, explore with them a referral to a relevant support service for assessment.
Short, sharp solutions might resolve immediate issues that need to be dealt with but tend not to be sustainable. Hoarding behaviour can often return if the underlying cause is not dealt with.
Some support solutions include:
Where support is offered and refused, it is important to note this in the tenant’s records as this may be crucial evidence later if legal action is required. A joint meeting with any agencies attempting to offer support to the tenant might be useful at this stage to explore options.
In some cases, enforcement action may be required in line with the Residential Tenancy Act 2010 (NSW). This may be to:
Enforcement action should only be taken where:
Where the tenant is already known to one or more agency, establish a meeting to discuss concerns and explore possible action, including the tenant in discussions.
Where the tenant is not engaged with any support services, with the support of the Tenancy Officer or equivalent, explore referral to relevant support services.
Fire and Rescue NSW should be informed of any high risk hoarder, especially if they are within a property which may affect others, such as an apartment block. Referrals should be made through the Team Leader or equivalent.
Updated – November 2018
Housing Plus is a progressive social enterprise that re-invests ALL profits back into improving social outcomes for individuals and communities in regional NSW. Housing Plus is a registered not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, and is a Tier 1 accredited community housing provider.
Suite 8, Level 2, 113 Byng Street
Orange NSW 2800
PO Box 968 ORANGE NSW 2800
Phone: 1800 603 300
Fax: (02) 6361 1609