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Filthy and verminous premises


When a property has a lot of food waste, faecal material, soiled clothing or furniture or is infested with rodents or insects it may be termed ‘filthy and/or verminous’ under public health legislation. Properties like this may cause a smell that affects neighbours and there may be concerns about the health of the occupier. Some of these properties have a lot of stored belongings in them, this is sometimes called hoarding.

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Sometimes, but not always, residents of properties that can be classified as filthy and verminous may have a problem with acquiring an excessive number of items which they store in their property. This, on its own, will not necessarily produce a risk to health. However, hoarding can make access difficult and may present a fire risk. The Fire and Rescue Service offer Safe and Well visits and provide advice on managing fire risk.

The person may be suffering from Hoarding Disorder which is now a recognised mental health condition. If you are concerned that your friend or relative may have a significant problem with hoarding their General Practitioner (GP) should be approached. Further advice can be found on the NHS website.

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If you feel you are able to speak to the occupier you should check if they are alright or need some help. You may be willing to help them contact family members who can assist, their GP or the Council’s Adult Care Services.

Mind is the leading mental health organisation in England and Wales and are able to provide information on a range of topics including hoarding disorder.

The Health Trainer Service can offer support, advice and sign posting to residents who want to improve their health or make positive life changes.

If you are unable to speak to the person or have done so but require further advice please contact the Environmental Protection Team provide us with as much information as possible about the person concerned.

If the person is living in a Wiltshire Council property please contact Wiltshire Council Customer Services 0300 4560 100

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We will initially visit you or, depending on the circumstances, the property in question to assess the problem ourselves. However if access to the property in question is refused we may have to either write to the occupier providing them with 48 hours notice of  our arrival or  if this is refused we may apply to the magistrates court for a warrant of entry. Such problems have to be dealt with sensitively and normally in partnership with the Adult Care department, Fire Service and other organisations.

Depending on what we find we may ask the resident to arrange cleaning, removal of waste or pest control treatment. If the resident fails to improve the property to a satisfactory condition the Council can serve a legal notice requiring the work to take place. Failure to comply with the notice may result in the Council appointing a contractor with the costs of this being recovered from the resident.

Enforcement will be carried out in accordance with Public Protection Enforcement Policy.

For further advice or to report suspected filthy or verminous premises please contact the Environmental Protection Team.

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Last updated: 15 November 2016 | Last reviewed: 15 November 2016