Hoarding - information

Do you know someone with a cluttered house or yard that is affecting the way they live?

Hoarding describes a condition where a person collects and keeps a large quantity of items, all of immense value to them.

Hoarding can result in extreme clutter in and around the home. People with this condition have a strong desire to save possessions and experience significant distress if asked to discard them. Animal hoarding is another form of this condition where people live with large numbers of animals that they are unable to care for appropriately.

This includes not being able to provide a minimum standard of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care for the animals.

Squalor describes an unsanitary living environment which poses health and safety risks to people or animals residing in the home. Prolonged or extreme hoarding may lead to squalor.

Hoarding is a diagnosable and treatable, behavioural mental health condition.

Risks of hoarding

Some of the risks and impacts of hoarding include:

  • personal safety

  • risk of fire

  • deterioration of mental and physical health

  • the mental and physical health of others living in the home

  • damage to housing structures

  • health of animals including sanitation

If you are a hoarder, or know someone who is, it is important to remember:

  • Hoarding is a mental health condition; it is not a case of a person being dirty, lazy or in a particular socio-economic group.

  • It is not easy to treat someone with a hoarding condition.

    Everyone is different and needs to be supported individually.

  • One-off clean ups are not effective and can cause great distress and pain for the person concerned.

Animal hoarding

Animal hoarding is where there is an accumulation of large numbers of animals that overwhelms a person's ability to provide a minimum standard of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care of the animals.

Minimise risk of fire

Fire can be a significant risk for people who hoard. The Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA) recommend risk reduction with these measures:

  • Working smoke alarms, tested monthly

  • Clear exits

  • Wide internal pathways

  • Safe connection of utilities, for example: gas and electricity

  • Cooking areas having one metre clearance around all fixed or portable appliances and meal preparation areas

  • One metre clearance of all fixed and portable heating

  • Naked flame(s) are identified and removed

  • Electrical appliances that are not required are disconnected

  • Electrical extension, appliance cords and attached
    items need to be identified

  • Electrical power boards are identified and ensure safe use:

    • One power board per point

    • No double adaptors plugged into power boards

    • Unplug power boards plugged into other power boards

    • Remove accumulated items on power boards.

Help is available

Learn more about:

This information has been developed by the Geelong Hoarding Network, funded by the City of Greater Geelong.

All information provided on these pages was current as of August 2015.

The associated agencies, groups, organisations and Government departments are not responsible for the use of, or results of use of, this information/guide.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2018