A hoarder found dead in his home was buried under so much rubbish it took a team five hours of cleaning before police could get to his body.

Officers had to break into the home of 63-year-old James Pettit, in Birmingham, after his neighbours raised the alarm.

When police kicked down the door, they discovered the house was full of rubbish from ceiling to floor - and a strong rotten stench.

Officers could see the man's corpse entombed deep in the mountains of rubbish but could not get to him safely.

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A team of specialist cleaners had to be called to move the junk and make a path for the corpse to be recovered.

"I heard it was 10 times worse upstairs – it was waist-high around the room," a neighbour told The Sun.

"The police said it was too dangerous and unsafe to move the body. They had to call for assistance to clear a path."

A hoarder's body was discovered entombed inside this house, with rotting waste littering the stairwell leading up to the 1st floor flat. Photo / Supplied
A hoarder's body was discovered entombed inside this house, with rotting waste littering the stairwell leading up to the 1st floor flat. Photo / Supplied

It took the team more than five hours to get to the body.

Tests revealed the man died on Wednesday night.

He reportedly lived alone in the same house for four decades.

Neighbours say he was always well groomed when they saw him.

"The strange thing is that he always appeared well-dressed when you did see him," one neighbour said.

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"You'd see him walking down the street with his dry cleaning.

"That was the thing that always struck me – that he would get his clothes dry cleaned and then go back into that flat.

"I went into his house 25 years ago and there was no room to move. It could only have got worse since then."

Another neighbour said the man was "quiet" but had a good job that "paid well".

"He would get taxis everywhere. Only a couple of weeks ago I saw him getting into a Bentley," the man said.

Police say the death is not being treated as suspicious and has been referred to the coroner.