Thursday 30 April 2015

Hoarding in HDB flats: Pest-infested flat plagues neighbours

Family live in fear of roaches for 16 years with hoarder next door
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 29 Apr 2015

EVERY night for the past 16 years, Ms Nur'Ashikin Zainol and her family have shut the windows of their Eunos Crescent flat before sleeping, for fear that cockroaches would join them in bed.

"Every day, we encounter five to 10 cockroaches. In the night, when you go to the toilet, you will surely kill one or two," said the 33-year-old cake decorator.

Her husband, building maintenance technician Fazlan Sahat, 33, said the pests have even wriggled into his pants before.

"Just the other night, a cockroach nearly crawled into my son's ear," Ms Nur'Ashikin said.

The source of the infestation? A three-room flat next door, occupied by Mr Lim Chin Ting, 74, and his wife, Madam Soh Siew Zhen, 66.

Pest-infested Eunos Crescent flat: Neighbours have been living in fear of roaches for 16 years with hoarder next door....
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A musky, sour stench hung over the couple's flat when The Straits Times visited yesterday.

Stacks of newspapers, clothes, boxes, empty bottles and cans, and even a bicycle wheel lined the walls. The items filled the rooms and kitchen to a chest-high level, and there was only a narrow passage left for walking.

Dozens of cockroaches were crawling around, while dead ones peppered the sticky floor and even the walls.

But Mr Lim, a drink-stall assistant, said he is not bothered by the grime. "I'm used to it," he said in Mandarin, shrugging.

He said his wife hoards the items, and he sleeps on the living room sofa as there is nowhere else to rest. "If I touch her stuff, she will scold me."

The couple, who have lived there since 1977, are not on speaking terms.

Mr Lim said Madam Soh's habit became much worse about five years ago. "Every day, she brings back two or three bags."

The National Environment Agency, Marine Parade Town Council and Housing Board said in a joint statement yesterday that the unit was inspected on Monday because of a dengue cluster in the neighbourhood. Insecticide was sprayed to kill adult mosquitoes.

"The insecticide was also effective against the large population of cockroaches that was present in the flat," the statement said.

It added that the town council cleaned up the common corridor, and would work with HDB and the residents to "ensure that the flat is properly maintained".

Ms Nur'Ashikin posted a video on Facebook of cockroaches swarming the corridor after the spraying was carried out. The video has been viewed more than 270,000 times. "We just want (the couple) to get help. It's a hygiene problem," she said.

But an indignant Madam Soh told The Straits Times in the void deck: "Why can't I keep my things? It's not like I have a lot."

The unemployed woman said she was aware the clutter might pose a problem. "If I want to clear it, I can. But I need my stuff."

The problem of hoarding has hit the headlines again thanks to a video about a flat in Jalan Eunos infested with...
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Family had failed repeatedly to clear pest-infested flat
Things just stacked up whenever there was empty space, says couple's son
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 1 May 2015

THE family of an elderly couple living in a cockroach-infested flat said they have tried repeatedly to solve the problem, but to no avail.

Drink-stall assistant Lim Chin Ting, 74, and his wife, Madam Soh Siew Zhen, 66, have lived in their three-room Housing Board unit in Eunos Crescent since 1977.

Over the years, Madam Soh's compulsive hoarding habit has led to a cluttered flat overrun by cockroaches and flies.

The pests have even spilt over to their next-door neighbour's flat.

"We've basically given up," said the couple's youngest child, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim.

"We tried very hard to clear the stuff. But whenever there was empty space, things just stacked up," said the 31-year-old IT business owner, who moved out of the flat 15 years ago.

His two older siblings also live elsewhere.

“We cannot stop her.” The children of an elderly couple living in a cockroach-infested flat said they have tried to stop...
Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, April 30, 2015

The younger Mr Lim added: "She will listen if you speak calmly to her. But once we start moving her things, she will get very worked up.

"We cannot stop her."

The couple's daughter agreed.

Ms Lim, 44, said: "What we can do, we've already done.

"Let's see what the authorities can do."

Marine Parade Town Council and HDB said on Tuesday that they would work with the residents to "ensure that the flat is properly maintained".

The town council's chairman, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, said it was alerted to the matter last December.

"Our cleaners cleared the corridor and that was the end of the matter as there was no further feedback," said the Mountbatten MP, adding that the staff did not enter the flat.

Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef said: "This family has never opened their door during our house visits over the years."

She said they have since spoken to the couple and offered to help clean up the flat.

"They want time to keep their things. We have set a deadline to come in and help with the cleanup," she added.

Madam Soh's children are worried about their mother's well-being.

The younger Mr Lim said: "I'm really afraid of the aftereffect on my mum. She will be really upset if they clear her things."

More facing 'intolerable' issues
The Straits Times, 29 Apr 2015

FEWER Housing Board residents face inconvenience from neighbours, compared to five years ago.

But for those who do, more find it "intolerable", according to an HDB survey conducted every five years.

In 2013, 48.1 per cent of residents said they faced some form of nuisance - such as noise or littering - from their neighbours.

This was down slightly from 50.4 per cent in 2008.

But this included 32.1 per cent who found the nuisances intolerable - up from 26.6 per cent before.

The rest found the issues minimal or tolerable.

The most common problem was littering, which was experienced by one in five households. One in 10 found it intolerable.

Noise from neighbours was the second biggest problem, experienced by 17 per cent and found intolerable by 7.7 per cent.

MPs said noise is the most common complaint when neighbourly disputes are brought to them.

Conflicts also arise when residents place belongings in the common corridor, said Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa.

He has seen slightly more cases of disputes over the years. "The problem with this kind of thing is not so much the numbers, but that it may take a very long time to resolve them."

Some feuds have gone on for at least a decade, he added.

Their flat at Block 19 Eunos Crescent was the focus of a video that showed hundreds of cockroaches swarming out to the...
Posted by The New Paper on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The 'cockroach flat' is now partly cleared, thanks to officers from HDB and Marine Parade Town Council who spent six hours clearing heaps of junk in the three-room Eunos Crescent flat.
Posted by The New Paper on Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ms Nur'Ashikin Zainol is hopeful that her decade of putting up with cockroaches coming from her neighbour's flat is...
Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, May 7, 2015

* Cockroach-infested flat being cleaned up
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 7 May 2015

AFTER more than a decade of putting up with cockroaches coming from the flat next door, Ms Nur'Ashikin Zainol is now hopeful that the problem is almost over.

A clean-up crew set about clearing rubbish and exterminating pests on Saturday in the three-room flat in Eunos Crescent which is occupied by drink stall assistant Lim Chin Ting, 74, and his wife, Madam Soh Siew Zhen, 66.

Madam Soh had filled the rooms with old newspapers, clothes, boxes and other items which became a breeding ground for cockroaches.

The clean-up team included representatives from grassroots organisations, the Housing Board, and the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Only the living room has been cleared for now, but Ms Nur'Ashikin said she has seen fewer cockroaches and is "optimistic".

"Everybody is doing their best to clean up the house," she added.

The pests would often crawl into the flat where Ms Nur'Ashikin lives with her mother, husband and two children.

The 33-year-old cake decorator said her parents had put up with the problem for years. "They didn't really want to complain. They just lived with it."

Ms Nur'Ashikin did not approach the authorities, nor did she press Mr Lim on the issue. "We didn't want a confrontation," she said.

But last month, while conducting dengue checks in the neighbourhood, NEA came across Mr Lim's unit and sprayed insecticide inside the flat to kill mosquitoes.

Cockroaches swarmed into the corridor. Ms Nur'Ashikin posted a video of the scene on Facebook.

"We just wanted them to get help," she said."Maybe a charity foundation or volunteers could help them to clean up the place after it has been cleared."

Mr Lim said things were "okay" but he did not want further media attention.

Madam Soh Siew Zhen, the hoarder who was living in a cockroach-infested Eunos flat, has been getting treatment at IMH.Her husband says he is finally living in a house with clear rooms.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, May 19, 2015


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