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Housing Association objecting to plastic storage boxes (and too much stuff)!

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539 views 1 replies latest reply: 05 February 2017

Hi all,

I am a secure tenant with a Housing Association in a flat I have lived in for 36 years.

A vindictive neighbour recently reported me for running a business from home and claimed I have so many deliveries that it’s a nuisance. This is a total lie, and is not the issue now, I just wanted you to know that was the catalyst.

Our neighbourhood manager visited that neighbour to discuss this reported issue and then knocked on our door unannounced.

Now, we have a LOT of personal belongings in this small flat. We are arty people who love art and craft supplies and that’s how we live our life. It IS too full in here at the moment and has become an issue for us because we can’t really get to everything anymore. However, we had decided before Christmas that we would begin de-cluttering and organising the place in the new year. We are also a bedroom short, by law and council rules, and it’s a small flat with no storage cupboards or loft provided, so it’s understandable that we have little practical space.

We have a lot of stuff (art supplies, wools, clothes, christmas decs, etc.) in the hallway, craft room  and bedroom in Wham plastic stackable storage boxes, some stacked five high.   

So, when the neighbourhood manager saw these, he nearly had a heart attack, put his hand to his mouth dramatically and said, “You can’t do this!”

He claims it is a fire risk because we have such a large amount of stuff (now, that bit, I can almost accept, though I don’t know if he can actually take action about that?) and that the stacks would endanger a firefighter should there be a fire in property. Perhaps this sounds like a logical point – but again, is that something he can take action on/enforce, or should he just be advising…? So many other things could be said to be a problem in a fire, too… He also said the boxes would give off poisonous fumes, but again, so would practically everything else in a house, including the MDF furniture we might replace the boxes with…

He’s now threatening to take us to court and either demote our tenancy, evict us, or have the stuff removed by force. For now, he has referred us to the Tenacny Sustainment Team. (I think there’s a possibility he thinks we’re hoarders, but the place is in a clean, hygienic, just overly-full, state. I do accept that he has no way of knowing for sure that this is not the beginning of a hoarding problem/case).

Does anyone know if they, the Housing Association, are within their rights to:

(a) make us part with our stuff because there is too much and they worry that it would cause a hotter bigger fire should there be one, and

(b) tell us that towers of plastic storage boxes are not allowed in our home and force us to buy furniture and not use them.

At the moment, it all feels totally preposterous and I am doubting this guy’s sanity… I can find no fire or danger advice online about plastic storage boxes and fire safety.

Any advice or knowledge of the laws available please?

Thank you!


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When they burn, plastics release a huge amount of toxic fumes, which are a serious threat to anyone in the property, including firemen. However, that’s assuming the worst case scenario. 

Still, the neighborhood manager is not wrong to accuse you of producing fire hazards. If you cramp a small property with too much belongings, well, that’s a fire hazard, regardless if you’re hoarding or keeping it clean. 

If your stuff were being kept in a MDF shelving or similar furniture, would it still take so much space ? If yes, then it will still be a fire hazard, regardless of the plastic containers. 

If not, then you should consider purchasing said furniture to calm the spirits down. I’m sure the neighbourhood manager will be please to see you’ve reduced the volume of your arts and crafts materials. 

If not still, you should consider an alternative storage solution. 

Here is a good checklist for the minimum conditions before your property is considered a fire hazard:


  • Smoke detector missing or disconnected
  • Flammable items or papers near or on the stove, space heater, open flames or
  • overloaded outlets.
  • Blocked exits: unit door should swing open freely so anyone can enter / exit the unit
  • Lacks clear pathways from unit/balcony doors to all unit rooms
  • Unauthorized wiring in unit
  • Other fire hazards in the home, e.g. propane BBQ tanks, frayed wires, overuse of
  • extension cords, other electrical.

I hope this helps you. 

For further info you may also check this guide: https://www.onpha.on.ca/onpha/CMDownload.aspx?ContentKey=284fa8ee-8f24-44a4-aa5a-17b4ebb3cc1f&ContentItemKey=d26b49d9-4071-4117-bfaa-1c4919dfd7dc

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