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Exposed: The Real Dangers of Hoarding That Can Lead to Your Home Being Condemned

Can a house be condemned for hoarding?

Can a house be condemned for hoarding?


Hoarding, a behavior characterized by excessive accumulation of items and difficulty discarding them, can have severe consequences on the lives of those affected and their loved ones.

One significant concern is whether a house can be condemned for hoarding. In this blog post, we will discuss the legal implications surrounding hoarding, how it can lead to property condemnation, and ways to prevent such a drastic outcome.

Key Takeaways


  • Hoarding can lead to legal consequences such as fines, eviction, and condemnation of the property due to hazards that it creates for public health and safety.
  • Compulsive hoarders are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as individuals with disabilities, but they are still subject to local codes and regulations. Landlords have a responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations before evicting tenants based on hoarding behavior.
  • Early intervention is crucial in preventing hoarding from escalating into severe cases. Therapy can help address the root causes of hoarding behavior while regular maintenance and upkeep of the home can minimize unsanitary conditions and property damage.
  • Regular maintenance may not be sufficient if hoarding has already caused significant damage or created hazardous conditions. In these cases, homeowners should seek professional help and work with local authorities to find solutions.


Understanding Hoarding And Its Effects On A Home

Hoarding behavior is defined as the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, resulting in the accumulation of clutter that inhibits the normal use of living spaces and creates an unsanitary living environment for residents.

Defining Hoarding Behavior

Hoarding behavior encompasses the persistent difficulty of discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. This compulsive tendency often results from a combination of emotional attachment to items, excessive clutter, anxiety disorders, and chronic disorganization.

This obsessive behavior takes a toll not only on the individual but also on their living environment and relationships with others. A house affected by hoarding can become an unhealthy and unsafe space due to extreme clutter and unsanitary conditions.

For example, blocked exits can pose significant fire hazards while excess debris may attract pests and mold infestations. Moreover, friends and family members might be reluctant to visit or offer support in fear of enabling the person's hoarding behavior further.

Physical And Emotional Effects On The Home And Residents

Hoarding not only impacts the physical state of a home but also takes a significant toll on the emotional well-being of its residents. The accumulation of clutter and possessions in every nook and cranny can lead to unsanitary living conditions, with increased mold, bacteria, pests, and potential fire hazards.

For instance, excessive clutter may block exits or impede access to essential areas like kitchens or bathrooms.

The emotional consequences of hoarding are equally concerning. Individuals struggling with compulsive hoarding often experience anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, social isolation, and even mental illness as their living spaces become increasingly unmanageable.

This can be particularly distressing for family members witnessing their loved one's decline in hygiene standards and overall quality of life due to these unhealthy behaviors.

Moreover, neighbors might begin expressing concerns about unhinged sanitary conditions affecting them adversely while local authorities may receive complaints regarding obstruction caused by amassed debris around entrances or shared areas in community properties; eventually leading to legal implications associated with hoarding behavior

Legal Implications

Legal implications surrounding hoarding are increasingly becoming a significant concern for both homeowners and renters. Compulsive hoarding can result in housing code violationsstructural damage to the propertydevaluation of the home's worth, and possible eviction or condemnation.

Despite these potential consequences, it is crucial to recognize that under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), compulsive hoarders are protected as individuals with disabilities.

In many cases, reasonable accommodations must be made by landlords before moving forward with evictions based on hoarding behavior. However, this protection does not exempt those suffering from hoarding disorder from complying with local codes and regulations meant to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents.

Can A House Be Condemned For Hoarding?

Local condemnation procedures and code violations often result in fines for hoarder houses, while legal interventions and due process rights could also come into play.

Local Condemnation Procedures

Local condemnation procedures can be initiated by local government authorities when a property is deemed unfit for habitation or poses a threat to public safety.

In cases where hoarding has created hazardous living conditions, local health board regulations may condemn the property. A building inspection would typically identify the issues that lead to the condemnation, and code violations could result in fines for hoarder houses.

However, due process rights are available to homeowners before any legal interventions take place. It's important for hoarders and their families to work proactively with local authorities to find solutions and prevent further deterioration of the home.

Code Violations And Fines For Hoarder Houses

A hoarder's home can be condemned if significant housing code violations are found, which can result in fines and legal action. Here are some of the specific code violations and fines that can be imposed on hoarder houses:


  • Clutter: Excessive clutter is a common issue in hoarded homes. It can create fire hazards and obstruct exits, both of which are code violations.
  • Sanitation: Hoarding often leads to unsanitary conditions due to the accumulation of trash, food waste, and other debris. This can lead to health hazards for residents and neighbors.
  • Uninhabitable: If a home is deemed uninhabitable due to hoarding-related damage or unsafe living conditions, it may be subject to condemnation.
  • Building Codes: Violations of building codes related to electrical systems, plumbing, ventilation, or other elements of the home may also result in fines or legal action.
  • Public Nuisance: A hoarded home can be considered a public nuisance if it creates health or safety hazards for neighboring properties or occupants.
  • Property Maintenance: Failure to maintain the property due to hoarding behaviors can also lead to code violations and fines.
  • Environmental Health: Hoarding may result in environmental health concerns such as mold growth, pest infestations, or water damage.
  • Unsafe Living Conditions: In extreme cases where the living conditions pose an immediate danger (such as blocked exits), authorities may intervene even before condemning the house.
  • Zoning Regulations: Some zoning regulations prohibit businesses from operating out of residential properties. If a hoarder attempts to run a business out of their home, they may face zoning violations.


It's important for hoarders and their loved ones to take these potential consequences seriously and seek help before they escalate. Early intervention and therapy can prevent a situation from getting out of control and potentially resulting in significant financial penalties.

Legal Interventions And Due Process Rights

Legal interventions for hoarding disorder may involve sanctions such as eviction, cleanout or removal. However, tenants are entitled to due process rights before being evicted from a property.

When considering a legal intervention, landlords or housing providers must provide written notice of the violations and give the tenant a chance to remedy the situation within a reasonable time frame.

If the issue persists, an eviction notice can be served with sufficient proof that reasonable accommodation has been provided and tenant behavior poses a direct threat to health and safety.

Preventing Condemnation For Hoarding

To prevent condemnation for hoarding, early intervention and therapy can help address the root causes of hoarding behavior while regular maintenance and upkeep of the home can minimize unsanitary conditions and property damage.

Early Intervention And Therapy For Hoarding Behavior

Early intervention and therapy are crucial in preventing hoarding behavior from escalating and leading to legal consequences such as the condemnation of a house.

Hoarding disorder is a diagnosable mental health condition, and talking therapy has been found to be the most effective treatment for it. This type of therapy aims to address the underlying emotions that lead to hoarding behavior, such as anxiety or trauma.

It can also help individuals develop healthy coping strategies and establish goals for decluttering their homes.

Regular maintenance and upkeep of the home can also prevent hoarding behavior from causing damage that may attract code enforcement attention. Intervention at an early stage typically has higher success rates than addressing extreme cases later on when solving the problem becomes more challenging.

Regular Maintenance And Upkeep Of The Home

Regular maintenance and upkeep of the home is crucial in preventing it from being condemned for hoarding-related issues. Some key steps that homeowners can take include:


  • Clearing clutter on a regular basis to ensure that items don't pile up and create hazards.
  • Cleaning surfaces and floors regularly to maintain sanitation and prevent mold or pests from taking hold.
  • Checking fire safety equipment, such as smoke alarms and sprinklers, on a regular basis to ensure they are functioning properly.
  • Ensuring that exits and walkways are clear at all times to prevent accidents or blockages in case of an emergency.
  • Addressing any repairs or maintenance needs promptly to prevent further deterioration or damage to the home.


By taking these steps, homeowners can help prevent their homes from becoming unsafe due to hoarding behaviors. It's important to note that regular maintenance may not be enough if hoarding has already caused significant damage or created hazardous conditions. In these cases, seeking professional help and working with local authorities may be necessary.

Working With Local Authorities To Find Solutions

If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding, it's essential to work with local authorities to prevent condemnation of the home.

While condemning a house can be a lengthy and challenging process for both parties involved, there are steps that homeowners can take to seek help from their local government.

By establishing open communication and seeking professional assistance, individuals affected by hoarding disorder may receive resources related to mental health counseling services, cleaning companies specializing in hoarder cleanup projects, and waste removal solutions experienced in handling hazardous materials such as biological debris or chemical residues commonly found at hoarded properties.

Additional Resources And Support For Hoarders And Their Families

There are numerous resources and support options available for hoarders and their families. One is professional organizing services, which can facilitate the sorting, decluttering, and organization of a home to prevent hoarding behavior from escalating.

In addition, family members can seek mental health treatment for their loved ones with the disorder. Support groups such as Clutterers Anonymous provide a safe space for hoarders to connect with peers who understand their struggles while receiving emotional support and practical advice on managing the condition.

Selling A Hoarder House

Selling a hoarder house can be challenging due to the state of the property, but steps can be taken to prepare it for sale and work with real estate professionals to find interested buyers.

Challenges In Selling A Hoarder House

Selling a hoarder house can be an uphill battle due to the excessive clutter and damage caused by hoarding disorder. Buyers are often turned off by the prospect of purchasing such a property, making it difficult for specialized real estate agents to sell them.

Compounding this challenge is the fact that hoarder houses cannot be staged like other homes since they contain too many personal belongings, which may need professional junk removal companies' services.

Despite these challenges, there are ways to sell a hoarder house successfully. One approach involves working with experienced real estate professionals who have experience dealing with properties affected by hoarding disorder.

These agents can help homeowners navigate the process of cleaning out their homes, preparing them for sale, and finding qualified buyers willing to take on such unique properties.

Additionally, rehabilitating or clearing out your home requires teams that offer hazard waste disposal services and rehabilitation services alongside mental health support options as likeminded individuals struggle with compulsive hoarding disorders.

Steps To Prepare A Hoarder House For Sale

If you're looking to sell a hoarder house, there are several steps you can take to prepare it for a successful sale. Here are some important ones:


  1. Declutter and Clean: Remove all unnecessary items and dispose of them properly. Hire professionals to deep clean the house and remove any stains or smells.
  2. Repair Structural Issues: Check for any structural damage caused by hoardings, such as holes in the walls or ceiling, broken windows, or damaged floors. Repair them before putting the house on the market.
  3. Renovate: Consider updating the home with fresh paint, new flooring, or other cosmetic improvements that will make it more appealing to buyers.
  4. Stage the House: Hire a professional home stager to help you present the home in its best light for potential buyers.
  5. Get a Home Inspection: Make sure to get a thorough inspection of the property before listing it for sale. This way, you'll be aware of any hidden issues that could turn off buyers.
  6. Price It Right: Take into account the value of the property itself as well as its contents when determining an asking price for the home.
  7. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent: Find an agent who has experience selling distressed properties like hoarder homes, they will help guide you through this process and provide valuable insights.


Selling a hoarder house can be a challenging task, but by taking these steps and working closely with professionals in the real estate industry you can increase your chances of success.

Working With Real Estate Agents And Buyers

Selling a hoarder's house can be challenging, which is why working with an experienced real estate agent is crucial. A knowledgeable agent can help you navigate the unique challenges of selling a hoarder property, like dealing with potential code violations and fines.

They will also know how to stage the home to make it more appealing to buyers while still respecting the privacy of the previous owner. Additionally, when selling a hoarder's home, it is essential to consider all potential buyers carefully.

For example, some real estate investors specialize in buying fixer-upper properties that need significant work or may even offer cash for as-is sales.

Helping A Loved One Who Is Hoarding

Understanding hoarding disorder and treatment options is crucial in helping a loved one who is struggling with hoarding behavior. Active intervention, seeking professional help, and support groups are just a few approaches that can make a significant difference in improving the living conditions of hoarders.

Understanding Hoarding Disorder And Treatment Options

Hoarding disorder is characterized by persistent difficulty in parting with possessions, resulting in excessive clutter that affects the quality of life.

It's not just about being messy or disorganized; it's a complex mental health issue that can lead to hazardous living conditions and social isolation. Treatment options for hoarding disorder include psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which help individuals learn new skills to manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors related to acquiring and saving items.

Support groups can be another valuable resource for those struggling with hoarding disorder. They provide a sense of community and understanding among people who share similar experiences, helping to reduce shame or embarrassment associated with hoarding behavior.

Ultimately, treatment for hoarding disorder requires patience, empathy, and persistence because there are no quick fixes when it comes to changing deeply ingrained patterns of behavior.

Approaches To Help A Loved One With Hoarding

Helping a loved one with hoarding can be challenging, but there are approaches that can make a difference in their recovery. One approach is to volunteer to help them sort through their items and clean out their home.

This process can be emotionally draining for the hoarder, so it's essential to approach it with compassion and empathy.

The support of family members and friends during this process is crucial for the success of treatment. Seeking professional help such as therapy or support groups can also aid in stress management and anxiety associated with letting go of clutter.

Seeking Professional Help And Support Groups

If you or a loved one is struggling with hoarding disorder, seeking professional help and support groups can be instrumental in promoting recovery.

Supportive therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can address the underlying causes of compulsive hoarding behavior while providing emotional support to those affected by it.

Additionally, family members and friends of those struggling with hoarding can attend support groups that provide a safe space to share experiences and learn effective coping strategies.


In conclusion, hoarding can have serious consequences for homeowners and renters. A local board of health could condemn property if it poses a danger to public health and safety due to hoarding.

While there are no laws prohibiting hoarding, property owners must comply with rules against the problems caused by hoarding. Preventing condemnation for hoarding requires early intervention and therapy for the affected individual, as well as regular maintenance and upkeep of their home.

Selling a hoarder house can be difficult but preparation is necessary beforehand in order to find buyers willing to tackle potential challenges with the property. Seeking professional help and support groups is also important when dealing with loved ones who may be struggling with this disorder.


1. Can a house really be condemned for hoarding?

Yes, if the condition of a home poses serious health or safety risks to its occupants and neighboring properties, local authorities may condemn the property until necessary steps are taken to address the issue.

2. What is considered hoarding by officials?

Hoarding is defined as excessive accumulation of personal belongings that impairs basic living conditions such as sanitation, cleanliness or air quality. The accumulation can not only cause fire hazards but also pose dangers related to falls , electrical shock etc.

3. What should I do if I suspect someone in my neighborhood of being a hoarder?

If you are concerned about an individual or family member who appears to suffer from hoarding disorder - it should be reported immediately so they can receive proper help/counseling. If the situation is urgent - contacting your local public health department may provide resources on how best support these individuals through specialized programs without having negative consequences (i.e., eviction).

4. Can homeowners insurance cover damages caused by hoarding?

It depends on specific policy terms but typically - homeowners insurance does not cover costs associated with cleaning up after instances where homes have been condemned due to debris piles/masses cluttering interiors . It's important for property owners take necessary measures early-on when problems begin developing before things get too out-of-hand as this helps minimize losses/expenses over time!

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