Addressing clutter issues in communal areas

The nightmare issue of clutter!

Flat owners leaving their belongings in communal areas is a problem that won’t go away.

Potentially the biggest impact is how it would affect your fire risk assessment and escape plan for the building. Your local fire officer would be horrified to find bikes and buggies in the common parts so expect a lecture about how difficult  firemen would find it to make their way down the corridor, when they are tripping over bikes and other bulky items.

Disposing of bulky items such as bikes, buggies and even mattresses is a costly and time-consuming job that managing agents have to tackle only too frequently.

Those living in unsupervised buildings are the worst culprits

Tenants living in unsupervised buildings are the worst culprits – assuming they won’t be caught dumping their unwanted belongings in or around their block. CCTV cameras can help keep the problem at bay but a better, cheaper solution is to find ways to reuse unwanted items. One of the biggest headaches for residents and their managing agents is abandoned bikes. A purchase in a fitness phase whim turns into an unnecessary headache for a property manager.

You could think of donating any abandoned items to local charity shops if they are in good working order to help recycle some of the unwanted goods.

Here is a simple four-step strategy to tackle any unwanted waste in your building once you’ve reported the matter to your managing agent, which works like this:

  • Step 1 – Letter sent to residents that disposal of items is to occur at a certain date, say 6 weeks hence and clearly explaining the steps that will be taken.
  • Step 2 – Tagging of suspected abandoned items with labels – this can be done by the concierge if is there is one, by the property manager or by a resident willing to get involved.
  • Step 3 – Final notice of disposal tagged on abandoned items for two weeks
  • Step 4 – Removal of items after eight weeks from the start of the process. This ensures that residents have had plenty of time to reclaim their property before it is disposed of.

If your problem is storage rather than abandoned bikes, why not consider clubbing together to buy a bike shed for your block with permission from your landlord. This doesn’t have to be an expensive project and could save a lot of arguments between neighbours over bikes blocking corridors and other communal areas as well as reducing the risk in relation to fire.

Talk to your property manager to alert them of any issues with items in communal areas as this could pose a fire risk and should be addressed quickly.