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Law and Hoarder

by Jeff Cohn

posted in Legal

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Hoarding is a mental condition in which the individual builds upon their collection of possessions but has difficulty establishing what is valuable and what is clutter. In turn, the individual has difficulty parting with their possessions and the situation can develop into an overwhelmingly cluttered residence. There are no specific conditions of hoarding; a hoarder's home can contain anything from paper, toys, miscellaneous items, and even animals. The living conditions can be harmful to those residing in the habitat and even affect neighboring individuals and emergency personnel. Even though hoarding is considered a mental condition, can the law step in due to safety concerns?
The government concerning itself in personal concerns can be a controversial situation, but if said concerns begin infringing on others or are perceived as a risk to those directly involved, lawful actions may be necessary. In 2014, Houston, TX passed a regulation specifically directed towards hoarding. The new stipulation permitted authority involvement if complaints are receive. Police officials have permission to enter and evaluate apartments, and they will also be able to refer a hoarder to mental health services upon inspection. The last resort to deal with a hoarding situation would be to charge the hoarder a daily fine of up to $500 for a misdemeanor charge. The use of authorities and fines can serve as a strategy to prevent and control hoarding situations, but threatening the hoarders with such tactics may also instill more fear and insecurity, thereby further complicating the hoarding affair.
One complication with creating hoarding regulations is determining what constitutes as a hoarding situation. Each case will need to be addressed individually, as each hoarding situation is different. The main priority of setting hoarding stipulations is to maintain the safety of the individuals involved and ensure that they receive the proper help needed for their circumstance. It is necessary for various departments to work hand-in-hand to efficiently carry out a hoarding ordinance; the police, health department, mental health personnel, and other agencies' collaboration will be crucial to obtain the most effective results.
Formal hoarding task forces are in existence in various communities, and the awareness and response to hoarding instances are increasing and improving each year. Hoarding is a serious condition that needs to be properly addressed in order to maintain the wellbeing of the hoarder, relatives, friends, and the community. Could lawful action be a good method to resolving hoarding cases?
About the Author: Professional hoarding cleanup services, such as Address Our Mess, can help to cleanup that clutter in the residence. For more information go to
For additional helpful resources for hoarders, go to
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