Media Response Hoarders

Questions and responses

How many known hoarder properties are there in Monash? 

 There are about 12 properties that Council is aware of where hoarding in various degrees has been identified as a potential issue.

Does Monash Council refer properties to be placed on the MFB's Hoarding Notification System?

Yes, where hoarding meets the threshold for this system.

How many referrals has the council made in the two years?

At least 4 properties were the subject of a notification in 2019.

How many complaints has the council received about hoarding in the past two years?

We don’t categorise hoarding as a specific request for service and therefore we cannot accurately report on the number of complaints received. Nonetheless, Council receives numerous complaints regarding unsightly properties and it is when these complaints are investigated incidents of hoarding may be identified.

What does the council do if a complaint is made?

An assessment/investigation process starts which usually involves risk assessment for the hoarder and the neighbouring properties. Depending on the findings of the investigations it is not unusual for several departments within Council to be involved including building, local laws, public health and community services. Council may also engage external agencies to assist with the ongoing support/care for the hoarder – not-for-profit organisations as well as private businesses that specifically deal with hoarding issues.

Is the council able to enforce a clean-up order on dwellings in Monash?

Council’s Local Law includes a range of enforcement options that can be used to compel a person to bring their property into compliance with relevant controls. These options include issuing a Notice to Comply, a fine and ultimately prosecution. Nonetheless our experience tells us that hoarding is a matter that needs to be approached with sensitivity and with support for the hoarder as it can be a very traumatic experience for them. However, finding support services for the hoarder can be challenging as they are often already isolated from their families and not connected to any support or social groups  and they often refuse support. 

Have any clean-up orders been enforced in the past two years?

We can’t provide a figure that specifically relates to hoarding.  However, no matters associated with hoarding have been the subject of a prosecution (or Court Order) in the last two years.

How much has the council spent cleaning up known hoarder properties in the past two years?

Council has not undertaken any works associated with hoarder properties in the past two years.

What measures does the council put in place to prevent/help hoarders?

As well as the measures we have in place for safety such as public health and building regulations, we have social outreach including a trial position of a Positive Ageing Outreach Officer. Most of the people who have  been identified as hoarders are isolated and are not connected to any support or social groups. This role was developed to support and ensure that residents of Monash are able to actively be engaged with their community and be supported with their needs. As part of their role our officer has completed an online course for people who want to help those with a hoarding disorder and it provides a check list to follow to make sure the resident is safe and has been informed of agencies and organisations that can be of help. The reality is that many people initially refuse this help.

Issued: 12 February 2020
To: Leader
Quoting: Mayor, Councillor Stuart James