What is Hoarding Disorder?

Estimated reading time 5 minutes

Hoarding is the deliberate collecting and saving of possessions that hold little or no value. It is generally characterised by the hoarder’s home being filled with objects to the point that their quality of life is affected. Despite this, they may feel a strong connection to the items and resist throwing any away.

What are hoarding disorder symptoms?

If you hoard, you may have a strong belief that your possessions are important to your life. You may also experience a strong emotional response to the idea of throwing anything away. You may be a hoarder, or at risk of developing a hoarding problem, if you feel the following applies to you and the items you have collected.

  • You are saving things for future use, even if that use is unclear
  • You won’t be able to deal with daily life without your things
  • You are holding these things with the plan to arrange or organise them at some point
  • Your collections are special, unique, or valuable, despite other people not agreeing
  • Getting rid of any of your things may feel like wasteful behaviour and harmful to the environment
  • These possessions are of personal importance to you and contribute to your happiness

Commonly hoarded items include newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing. However, virtually any type of item that is collected for no clear reason is considered hoarding.

What is the difference between collecting and hoarding?

Many hoarders – or those at risk of developing hoarding disorder – earnestly believe that they are building a healthy and reasonable collection. Many of us would consider it clutter.

The main distinction between a hoard and a collection is the level of organisation and the impact it has on the owner. A collection of stamps, for example, may be neatly collected in a number of books kept on a shelf. A model train collection may be displayed across a garage or spare bedroom, ready and accessible for use and maintenance.

Conversely, hoarded items are likely to be in large piles or stuffed into shelves and strewn in corridors, with no clear organisation. If the items have begun to impede your ability to move around your home, enter certain rooms, or have contributed to hygiene related issues such as insects or rodents, then it is virtually certain that you have a problem with hoarding.

A useful resource for understanding the severity of a hoarding problem is the Clutter Image Rating.

If you identify your home or parts of it as being above a level 4 on the Clutter Rating, and you nonetheless feel an aversion to reducing the amounts, then it is likely you have a problem with hoarding and should seek help.

Where to get help for hoarding

Helping a family member suffering from a hoarding disorder is an immense challenge and should not be attempted alone. Underlying mental health issues contribute to virtually all cases of hoarding and so simply ‘clearing out’ is often not enough.

Hiring a mental health professional with hoarding experience is vital, as well as a clearance company. Often, it is agreed that a clean break from the hoarder property is needed as leaving the clutter behind and moving to a new home is the ‘reset’ that the hoarder needs to get their life back on track. Gaffsy specialise in purchasing properties where hoarding has been an issue. Not only do we operate as cash house buyers, but Gaffsy will also hire a removals company with hoarder experience to ensure that no important possessions are lost while the clutter is disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

In some cases, the property owners may prefer to sell the property to Gaffsy with the hoarded items still in place, we are one of the only cash property buying companies that purchase these hoarder properties and handle the contents ourselves.

I have inherited a hoarder’s property, what can I do?

When a hoarder sadly passes away, it is generally left to their family members to handle the junk collected over many years as well as dealing with the sale of a property left damaged and potentially unsafe by years of neglect. Often the family were previously unaware of the severity of the hoarding issue, making the process all the more challenging.

Hoarding over many years can cause numerous issues to a property, there is often an infestation of rodents and insects, while the increased chance of damp and the weight of the clutter can even  cause the property to be structurally unsafe. All these factors contribute to making the property of a deceased hoarder extremely difficult to sell.

At Gaffsy we buy any house, regardless of the contents and condition. If you have inherited a cluttered and unsafe house and the weeks and months of clearance and repairs before the property is saleable seems daunting, call us on 0207 459 4546 for a free, no obligation valuation.

  • With Gaffsy, you can get your house valuation quickly, and complete on your house sale fast with no fees.
  • Gaffsy will purchase a property in any condition, including with large amounts of hoarded items.
  • Gaffsy is the cheapest way to sell your property, avoiding costs such as agents’ fees, estate agents’ charges, solicitors’ fees, clearance costs, utility charges, mortgage payments and cosmetic repair costs.  
  • The best part is that selling to Gaffsy is fast – None of the lengthy waits associated with estate agents.

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