Brent Council has fought a two-year battle to remove a couple from their own home after their hoarding of rubbish and cats became a public health risk.
It was back in June 2010 that Brent’s environmental health team was first contacted about 113 Valley Drive.
A resident reported that conditions at the house in Kingsbury had become so filthy it was a public health risk and was starting to affect the neighbours. After several unsuccessful visits, a notice of intended entry was served and access was gained on 4 August 2010.
The inspection revealed every room in the house was filled from top to bottom with accumulated rotting household rubbish, cat faecal matter and unidentifiable filth. In fact, the property was so packed that there was not much room for more than three people to move around in it and the stench was so strong it could be smelt inside neighbouring properties.
Over the next few months, officers visited at least a dozen times but were unable to gain access either because the owners – Mr and Mrs Blore – were out or they refused to let them in. We wrote to the couple on several occasions advising them that they needed to take action immediately and what the consequences would be if they didn’t respond.
In October 2011, the public health team served enforcement notices under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requiring the abatement of conditions prejudicial to health and a nuisance. As a result of further non-compliance, a notice of intended entry was served before officers finally went to court to obtain a warrant to enter the premises, by force if necessary.
In January 2012 council officers, clearance contractors, a locksmith, and police officers forced entry to the property after Christopher Blore refused to co-operate. Every room was full of hoarded material such as old newspapers, bagged up rubbish, decomposing waste and cat food tins. Much of the material and some of the walls were covered in cat faeces. Cats were seen in most rooms and decomposed cat remains were found under the rubbish, as well as several kittens being nursed. The RSPCA and Mayhew Animal Charity were contacted for assistance and several kittens were subsequently removed and adult cats trapped in the rear gardens.
During clearance of the house the behaviour of the Blores was challenging, often obstructive and occasionally physically threatening. This meant that work had to be halted periodically and on a number of occasions the police had to be called to assist with Mr Blore.
Finally, in May 2012, a three-month closure order was obtained, preventing the Blores from entering the house and enabling the clearance work to take place. Unfortunately, Christopher Blore caused £1,300 worth of criminal damage to an officer’s car, for which he was prosecuted.
It took 22 days to clear the property of 36 tons of rubbish, including the remains of 15 cats, and to trap 70 feral cats. The council has placed a land charge on their property but is seeking to recover their costs more quickly via other legal means.
Most recently, officers are now involved with problems at the Blores’ current address with respect to drainage and the feeding of cats and Christopher Blore has already been arrested for breaching his ASBO.