As professional biohazard cleanup experts, hoarding cleaning services are one of our areas of specialization. We’ve seen firsthand the detrimental effects of hoarding, and we also know that there can be many legal issues associated with both hoarding and hoarding cleanup. Let’s take a quick look at hoarding disorders and what laws might apply to these types of situations.
Facts About Hoarding Disorder
If a loved one or tenant suffers from hoarding disorder, this is extremely upsetting for them as well as their family, friends and, of course, a landlord. Hoarding is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and typically it is recognized as being on the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) spectrum.
It’s wrong to assume that people with OCD are obsessed with organization and cleanliness because often an obsession or compulsive behavior has nothing to do with cleanliness or tidiness. With hoarding, a person compulsively and/or obsessively acquires possessions and has great difficulty parting with these items.
Often the items are acquired with little rhyme or reason, and this is generally one facet that separates hoarding from collecting. Collectors usually have specific reasons for acquiring each new item for their collection, while a hoarder simply continues buying or acquiring items and feels a compelling need to save these items even if they seem to have little to no value. Eventually, these possessions pile up throughout the home and make it impossible to maintain a healthy level of cleanliness and safety.
Keep in mind, that while hoarding can be hugely frustrating and upsetting for landlords as well as family members, the person with the hoarding disorder also is suffering greatly and usually feels immense shame about the condition of their home.
We’ve found that a caring, compassionate approach to hoarding cleanup, combined with treatment from a mental health professional is the best way to handle these situations. It can be tough, but we’ve seen many positive outcomes despite what might look like a hopeless situation.
What Does The Law Say?
Because hoarding is considered a disability by the United States government and is classified as such in the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Act. Individuals with hoarding disorders are protected by the ADA as well as the Fair Housing Act, and this means that landlords cannot evict homeowners because they are hoarding.
However, hoarding often violates certain health codes and other local or state laws, and this is the point where a landlord or family member or local safety officials can take action and require that a property be restored to a clean, safe state.
For instance, hoarding can constitute a public health issue. Unfortunately, hoarding can encourage pests, such as rodents, to accumulate on a property and this can spread pests beyond the property line to other dwellings. This can pose a community health risk, but if children are living at the hoarder’s home, this may violate laws regarding the children’s safety, and local officials may be forced to act on behalf of these minors.
This also can be true if an adult person in the home is either elderly or disabled (or both). If it is determined that the conditions in the home are causing harm to an elderly person or a disabled person, Adult Protective Services may intervene in the situation and require that the home be restored to a safe condition.
We’ve found that, in many cases, there also may be animal hoarding happening on the property or perhaps animal neglect. This is a common issue, and if animals are being abused, the local animal control officers also might need to become involved.
Additionally, local housing and building codes also might come into play with a hoarding situation. Fire safety, for instance, often is affected when a hoarding situation is out of control. In this case, there may be a legal obligation to clean up the property. Hoarding also can cause general damage to the structure of the property, which can pose a danger to the inhabitants.
So, while a landlord and family members may have their hands tied to some extent, there may be legalities at play that can, at least, force the situation to be remediated. This actually can be an excellent opportunity to encourage a hoarder to seek treatment for their hoarding disorder, which is the best possible outcome, and it can prevent future recurrences of hoarding.
Bio-One Can Help!
The team at Bio-One of Rowan County is available 24/7 to help with hoarding cleanup or any type of biohazard cleaning. When it comes to hoarding situations, landlords, family members and general cleaning services should not be used to remediate the situation as there are simply too many health risks, not to mention the emotional toll of this daunting task.
During a hoarding cleanup, we encounter a wide range of toxic and dangerous items. This ranges from rodent droppings and dead animals to mold and other toxins. Rotting food and human waste also often needs to be removed, and this type of cleanup is dangerous unless it is handled by professionals using proper protective gear and cleaning techniques.
Our team has many years of experience handling hoarding cleaning as well as death cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, mold cleaning services, homeless encampment cleanup and much more. We are a local company, and we serve all of Rowan County as well as Buncombe County, Cabarrus County, Gaston County and Mecklenburg County. If you need hoarding cleaning services or any other type of biohazard remediation services, don’t hesitate to call us at any time. We are available 24/7 and 365 days a year to provide comprehensive and compassionate cleanup services.