A Christchurch man who denies he is a hoarder has been evicted from his Addington home, with his landlord claiming he owes about $35,000 in unpaid rent.

Philip Johns, 70, said he has been ordered out of the property and is only allowed to return to retrieve his belongings from the back garden.

Johns says the items have been donated by members of the public and he plans to reuse parts of them for use in disaster zones overseas.

Among the many items on the site are six cars, a police motorbike, a cooker, a bed frame, a bathtub and at least eight fridges and six washing machines.

His landlord, Krishna Saha, says the law needs to change to make it easier for tenants to be evicted, after she has taken Johns to tribunal five times.

Johns insists he is not a hoarder and the items at the property are donations he reconditions to send to disaster zones by a group called May Mission.  

He took on the tenancy in February 2017, paying $600 a week. The average rental price for a four bedroom property in Addington is $400.

Donated items outside a property in Grove Rd in 2017.

He said he told Saha he had the large collection of things before he moved in. 

"She knew there was a lot of stuff from the old location that had to come here so that I could deal with it."

The electrical components from the old TV parts and motors from the refrigerators could be used to make wind generators and air conditioners in areas devastated by hurricanes, he said. 

"Everything was boxed and ready to be shipped to disaster areas overseas to help people."

The Christchurch City Council investigated a complaint about this property on Grove Rd, Addington, in 2017.

He said despite attending a tribunal he did not know he was going to be evicted until the bailiffs arrived.  

"I was served with an eviction order that I never knew was coming. I now have a judge's order. I cannot enter the house but I can be on the property to retrieve my possessions."

In 2017 the Christchurch City Council investigated a complaint about another Addington property where Johns lived that was totally overwhelmed by "donated" items.

At the time, head of regulatory compliance Tracey Weston said the complaint was over an obstruction to the footpath outside the Grove Rd property.

The tenant, who identified himself as Pastor Philip, said the items inside and outside the site were donations from the public.

Saha, who owns five properties and has previously rented land and rooms in Christchurch, has been involved in more than 100 tenancy tribunals

She said she took action against Johns after he fell behind in his rent, now owing about $35,000.

Items can be seen filling the front and back yard of the property.

"I have had a quote to remove his things from the property. It was $44,000," she said.

"I received numerous complaints from the council, requesting removal of materials on the property. These were items accumulated by the tenant and deemed damaging to the land by council.

"When the tenant refused to remove the materials, a court process was followed resulting in the tenant's eviction from the property. After the tenant failed to vacate the premises, a trespass notice was issued. The tenant has continued to return to the property despite this notice."  

She said the property was empty when Johns moved in.

"He told me that he does charity work in the Pacific and all the items will be shipped off-shore. Almost three years later the junk piled up and up.

"It was impossible to do inspections during the tenancy due to [being] unable to enter the property."

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, described Johns as plesant and quiet but said the items were "an eyesore".

Dr Janet Spittlehouse, a postdoctoral fellow at Christchurch Health & Development Study Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, said hoarding had been seen as a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or obsessive compulsive personality disorder, but had been recognised as a disorder in its own right since 2013.

Research by University of Otago Christchurch revealed as many as 35,000 New Zealanders over the age of 50 may have hoarding disorder, while a further 56,000 of over 50s "may have subclinical hoarding behaviours that could worsen as they age".

"People hoard because they have difficulty or feel distress when throwing things away, which leads to the accumulation of things," she said.

"The build-up of possessions will eventually result in parts of the home being unusable and, at the extreme, can lead to considerable squalor. Some people who hoard also have difficulty with sorting through their possessions and making decisions about what to throw away.

"Many people who have hoarding disorder will also have depression and/or OCD. It is a very distressing disorder."

Where to get help:

• Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354

• Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757

• Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116

• Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666.

Article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/115563737/im-not-a-hoarder-says-man-evicted-from-his-christchurch-home
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