Bio-One Of Rowan County decontamination and biohazard cleaning services

Hoarding Cleaning Services & The Law: What You Need To Know

hoarding before and after

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. 

Hoarding Cleanup
While cleaning up a hoarding situation is a crucial task, convincing your loved one to take this step can be difficult.

At Bio-One of Rowan County, we often are called in to provide hoarding cleanup services. While cleaning up a hoarding situation is a crucial task, convincing your loved one to take this step can be difficult. Here are a few facts about hoarding disorder and some tips to help you lead someone out of this terrible and unhealthy situation. 

Hoarding Vs. Clutter

Many of us have homes filled with clutter, but that doesn’t mean we have a hoarding disorder. We lead busy lives, and it can be tough to find time to weed out old clothes, books and belongings that we don’t need. Sometimes, we also have emotional attachments to items in our home and it’s tough to part with these objects, but most of us get around to donating or tossing old items eventually.

In some cases, a person who enjoys collecting might have what appears to be a cluttered home. Generally, however, collectors tend to display items and have them organized and take a good deal of thought when purchasing or acquiring objects for their collections. This also wouldn’t usually be considered a hoarding disorder.

With hoarding, objects are acquired with little thought and there is often no rhyme or reason as to why these items are purchased. The clutter is highly disorganized and begins to take over every room in the home, blocking hallways and doorways. Often, the home is barely inhabitable and can be dangerous for the residents.

Understanding Hoarding Disorder

While hoarding has been a common mental health issue for years, Hoarding Disorder was a recent addition to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This manual, created by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies a wide range of mental health and neurological disorders.

According to the DSM-5, for a person to be diagnosed with a hoarding disorder, several qualifications need to be met, including:

  1. "Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value."
  2. "This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items, a fear of losing them, or a desire to avoid waste."
  3. "The accumulation of possessions results in the living spaces in the home becoming cluttered and unusable to the point that the rooms cannot be used for their intended purpose."
  4. "The hoarding behavior causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning."
  5. "The hoarding behavior is not due to another medical condition, such as a brain injury or a neurodevelopmental disorder."
  6. "The hoarding behavior is not better accounted for by symptoms of another mental disorder, such as OCD."

It's important to note that hoarding disorder can range in severity from mild to severe, and not all individuals who hoard meet the full criteria for a diagnosis.

How To Help Your Loved One

Helping a loved one who hoards to seek treatment and have their home cleaned can be a delicate situation. Here are some tips to help you convince a loved one to seek treatment for a hoarding disorder and to have their home cleaned:

Start the conversation gently: It's important to approach the topic with empathy and understanding. Let your loved one know that you care about them and want to help.

Express concern for their health and safety: Hoarding can be dangerous, and it's important to express your concern for your loved one's health and safety.

Offer support and encouragement: Let your loved one know that you're there to support them and that you believe in their ability to make positive changes.

Educate yourself: Educate yourself on the nature of hoarding disorder, so you can better understand what your loved one is going through and how to help them.

Seek professional help: Encourage your loved one to seek professional help from a therapist who specializes in hoarding disorder.

Emphasize the benefits of treatment: Let your loved one know that seeking treatment can improve their quality of life and help them live in a safer and healthier environment.

Respect their autonomy: It's important to respect your loved one's autonomy and allow them to make their own decisions about seeking treatment.

Offer practical help: Offer to help your loved one with the practical aspects of cleaning their home, such as sorting through items and organizing their space.

Be patient: Recovery from hoarding disorder takes time, and it's important to be patient and supportive throughout the process.

Celebrate small victories: Celebrate your loved one's progress, no matter how small, to encourage and motivate them to continue making positive changes.

Why Use Professional Hoarding Cleaning Services?

There are two reasons why you should always seek the services of a professional biohazard cleanup company for hoarding cleanup. First, this type of cleanup can be dangerous and second, this is a highly emotional and difficult experience for you and your loved one with a hoarding disorder.

During a hoarding cleanup job, we encounter a wide range of toxic or unpleasant materials. This often includes dead animals and animal waste, as rodents and sometimes other animals will become trapped and die in the home. We often encounter mold and mildew and rotting food, as well as sharp objects.

Our biohazard remediation teams wear personal protective gear and use special equipment to remove toxic or dangerous items carefully. This is not something you should try to handle on your own.

People with hoarding disorder often become highly agitated during this process, and it can be a difficult and traumatic experience for family members and friends, as well. It’s better to have detached professionals provide this service. While we are compassionate and caring, we aren’t personally involved with the situation, which can make it easier for everyone.

Keep in mind that we will always do our best to salvage valuable items or items of sentimental value as well as furnishings and other important belongings. Our goal is to remove anything dangerous from the hoarder’s home and restore the home to a safe state. Hoarding cleanup can ensure that all biohazardous materials are removed, that access routes are safe and clear and that the fire danger has been reduced.

Call Bio-One Any Time!

If you need a professional hoarding cleanup company, the team at Bio-One is always here to help. We serve all of Rowan County as well as the entire Charlotte metro area. We can provide 24/7 hoarding cleanup as well as any type of biohazard cleaning and trauma cleanup, including crime scene cleanup, death cleanup, mold cleaning services and more.