Living with Hoarding
Is clutter hoarding?
Clutter is a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass. Clutter is about disorder. Clutter fills or covers an area of a home with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.
What is hoarding’s relationship with clutter?
Hoarding is about keeping anything and everything. A hoarder’s house is cluttered but a cluttered house is not always hoarding. It is the keeping of items that is the key to hoarding. Clutter is stuff scattered around but not kept. Both clutter and hoarding can have an impact on the property. I wrote an article on this subject The Impact of Hoarding on the Property Value
What is hoarding?
A hoarder keeps or collects things. A hoarder may collect old, not useful items, magazines, household items, clothing, boxes, and other items.
A hoarded house contains so much clutter and possible garbage that there is usually only a narrow path through the house. Any where there is a flat surface becomes a point to store stuff. Countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, and stairways are usually cluttered with a mountain of paraphernalia.
When the room inside the home is, full a hoarder may continue to extend out into other areas of the property and even off premises like storage units.
The persistent difficulty in getting rid of anything is the heart of the issue for a hoarder. Almost everything has sentimental value with a hoarder.
An obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over, the National Institute of Mental Health states. Hoarding is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Can hoarding create a dangerous living condition?
Hoarders often live in houses with dangerous conditions. This can lead to health problems for the hoarders and their residents.
Rodents, flies, roaches and other insects are often present in a hoarder home. The rodent feces contribute to a strong smell and health issues. Many hoarders’ living conditions have rotting food and feces around the house which is very unhealthy.
Some hoarders can keep flammable products or gasoline on the property. This is very unsafe and dangerous. The clutter in the home can make it more difficult to escape if exits and entrances are blocked.
Can hoarding lead to health problems?
As we just seen the hoarder could have a mental illness. And living conditions can bring on further health problems.
Some hoarders live in properties known for extreme dust and garbage, along with mold and mildew.
Many hoarders have pets or animals living in the home. The houses with pets generally have unsanitary conditions such as pet hair, urine, and even feces throughout the property. The smell can often be unbearable.
The residents in a hoarder home are breathing air contaminated with feces and harmful chemicals. This can lead to respiratory problems and a decline in their health over time.
Some hoarder homes have unusable toilets, lice on bedding, chewed-through electrical wires from rats, rotting food, and flea and rodent infestation. All of these will lead to health problem not only for the hoarder but everyone living in the home.
Many people living in hoarder houses suffer from poor health because of the hoarding conditions inside the homes.
Is all hoarding the same?
No. There are degrees of hoarding. The Institute of Challenging Disorganization has created a chart of five levels of hoarding, from minor to severe. You can get a more detailed insight at their website
A quick over view of the levels of the hoarding scale
Level One Hoarder House
There is only a small amount of clutter and little to no odors in a level one hoarder house. No excessive clutter; all rooms properly used; appliances functional; good housekeeping and maintenance. (My view is a level of hoarding should be hoarding. Level one sounds like not hoarding)
Level Two Hoarder House
Level two hoarders have started to accumulate junk that is beginning to block living areas, with noticeable odors. There are often pet feces on the floor and evidence of household rodents. There are often garbage filled countertops. Garbage cans are filled. Diminished appropriate sanitation; odors from dirty dishes, food prep, laundry, toilets; mildew present; medication control questionable.
Level Three Hoarder House
A level three hoarder often has one bedroom and bathroom that has accumulated so much stuff it is unusable. Clutter obstructing functions of key living areas; building up around exits, entrances, hallways and stairs; at least one room being used for intended purpose; several appliances not functional; inappropriate usage of electric appliances and extension cords; substandard housekeeping and maintenance.
Level Four Hoarder House
A level four hoarder home will have excessive pests, animal sanitary problems, and rotting food added to all of the above hoarding seen in levels one to three. There are strong odors that can be nauseating. Sometimes there is also animal hoarding. Diminished use and accessibility to key living areas; several rooms cluttered to extent they cannot be used for intended purposes; clutter inhibits access to doorways, hallways and stairs; inappropriate storage of hazardous combustible materials.
Level Five Hoarder House
A level five hoarder house is the worst of all the afflictions. Most of the entryways and exits have been blocked off by junk. Key living spaces not usable; all rooms not used for intended purposes; entrances, hallways and stairs blocked; toilets, sinks and tubs not functioning; hazardous conditions obscured by clutter.
There are unfathomable levels of clutter that create toxic conditions. Health problems are often evident with anyone living in the home.
What can be done with a hoarder home?
1. Get help and clean it up and fix the home. Hopefully get accountability to not return to hoarding
2. Sell the hoarder home “as is”. This is best to sell to a real estate investor. The standard home buyer will be over whelmed by the issues.
3. Clean it up, fix all the issues and list with a local agent to sell to a home buyer. This will cost some money up front.
4. Do nothing and leave the problem to the heirs.