If your neighbor has accumulated a number of belongings that feel a bit excessive to you, it can be hard to determine what to do. The first step is to figure out whether they are a collector or a hoarder. This article explains the difference.
Once you’ve determined someone is a hoarder, you may want to report them to an HOA board or property manager. Between landscaping, exterior decor, and architecture, a lot goes into making sure a subdivision looks nice. In some cases, reporting a hoarder is a reasonable thing to do.
Although, there are a few things to consider before filing a report.
First, hoarding disorder is a mental illness. It’s listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and people who hoard suffer from a disability that prevents them from being able to get rid of their things. The American Psychiatric Association defines hoarding disorder as, “persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or workspaces.” For more on the psychology of hoarding check out this article.
It’s helpful to approach the situation knowing you’re dealing with someone who has a mental illness. They’re not trying to be bad neighbors. They are not in control of this behavior.
Once you have that in mind, you may want to consider trying other courses of action before resorting to filing a report. For example, you could try talking with them directly and expressing your concerns; or maybe you could reach out to their family and friends and let them know you believe your neighbor has a problem.
In some cases though, that won’t be enough. The hoarder won’t be receptive and the problem will continue. Excessive paper and cardboard materials could pose a fire hazard, excess food could lead to mice and bugs, and more generally, all the clutter in the front yard and garage is an eyesore and can make it tough to sell nearby homes. For these reasons, reporting a hoarder that refuses to address the problem is essential; but how do you do this?
If after talking to them the problem continues, filing a report may be necessary.
How do you report a hoarder?
Before contacting the authorities, gather any photos you have of the problem. For example, items overflowing into the front and side yard or an overly-packed garage show as proof of potential dangers. Additionally, you’ll want to gather any documentation you have (HOA rules, notes about communication history, etc.).
Once you have everything organized, you have a couple of different options for who you can reach out to.
- Homeowners Association Officer: Call an HOA officer if you believe the hoarder is in good condition, but the problem is affecting the overall quality of the neighborhood
- Child Protective Services: If you know that there is a child at the home of the hoarder, they could be adversely affected by the situation. Calling Child Protective Services could be the appropriate course of action
- Adult Protective Services: Adult Protective Services are a social service designed to help abused or neglected adults, and adults with severe disabilities. If you believe the hoarder may be suffering from a debilitating mental illness, call APS.
It’s not easy to know when to report a hoarder, but in severe cases, it’s the only thing to do. If you believe someone could benefit from help from the authorities, become an ally, and don’t hesitate to make the call.
At Bio Solutions, we understand that these situations can be stressful and confusing. It’s difficult to navigate and that’s why we aim to lend a helping hand when it’s needed most. So, if after reading this article, you’re still not sure what to do, give us a call here. We’re more than happy to help.