Top tips for dealing with Hoarding in Social Housing

A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. The items can be of little or no monetary value.

Hoarding disorders are challenging for social landlords as many tenants who hoard may also be breaching their tenancy agreement. They also frequently do not see it as a problem, or have little awareness of how it’s affecting their life or the lives of others. If they do realise they may have a hoarding disorder, they are often reluctant to seek help because they feel extremely ashamed, humiliated or guilty about it.

At MSB we have extensive legal experience in dealing with tenants who hoard.

These are our top 10 practical tips for social landlords when dealing with a tenant who hoards:

  1. Look at each case on an individual basis and assess what can be done from a practical and legal perspective.
  2. Set clear, realistic and achievable goals with the tenant.
  3. Help the tenant make decisions rather than make decisions for them.
  4. Don’t be argumentative, be understanding.
  5. Don’t touch or move things without the tenant’s permission.
  6. Don’t refer to the belongings as rubbish, they will usually mean something to the tenant.
  7. Do not make any assumptions or judgments about the cause of the hoarding. A full medical assessment would be needed for a diagnosis.
  8. Gather as much information as possible from friends, family and neighbours, and try to engage them to offer support to the tenant.
  9. Be aware of any groups, charities or support services, local and online who may be able to offer support.
  10. Make referrals to external agencies. It may be appropriate to refer for a Care Act Assessment.

It is also good practice for a social landlord to have a hoarding policy and or procedure, plus a Hoarding Toolkit, which can include:

  • Clutter image rating cards
  • DSM Diagnostic Criteria
  • Hoarding safety tips
  • Hoarding Ice Breaker Form
  • Hoarding Home Visit Checklist
  • Justification Exercise

Contact us, we are here to help

If you would like further legal advice on hoarding, please do not hesitate to contact Louise Murphy, Head of our Social Housing and Regeneration Team.