How we can help people who hoard

Bruce McDermott, of the Tenancy Support Service, explains what hoarding is, how it affects tenants – and how Wheatley can help.

National Hoarding Awareness Week black graphic

Hoarding – keeping possessions and not getting rid of them – affects around 1.2million people in the UK. Many of them will be Wheatley customers.

Hoarders tend to acquire items that appear to have little or no value but are unable to discard them. That can include books, newspapers, clothes and even pets. This can lead to problems.

Clutter in the home is a fire risk, with items blocking exits and an excess of flammable material lying around.

The state of the home often means hoarders won’t allow access for gas inspections or repairs, which also has a serious impact on safety. 

So why do people hoard? Put simply, hoarders need to save items because throwing them out would lead to distress.

Hoarding can give people the feeling they have control within their own home while the rest of their life feels out of control.

Some people hoard due to emotional or sentimental reasons but it can often mask more serious issues, such as mental health or bereavement.

There are some things a housing officer should look out for. Not allowing access into the home? This could be due to hoarding

Does a tenant say they have a lot of items ‘because I don’t have enough storage’?

Does a tenant make excuses about why their home is cluttered but without saying they intend to clear the clutter away?

It can cause distress to people who hoard to clear items – that’s where the Tenancy Support Service comes in.

Housing officers can make a referral to the Tenancy Support Service who will work with the person and link in with health or social work services if required.

We can help people look at the reasons for hoarding, help reduce the distress about discarding items, and how they could benefit from de-cluttering.

It might be about finding a more manageable way for the tenant to keep their possessions such as storage boxes or wardrobes.

For tenants, de-cluttering the home will have huge benefits. They will cut the risk of fire - and be able to enjoy their own space.

A really good solution is to de-clutter and donate. De-cluttering the home and donating items to Home Comforts or to charity shops can be very positive.

That allows people to feel they are helping others by donating to a good cause.

There can be a real sense of well-being after donating items which might benefit other people.

If you think a customer may need some help, get in touch with the Tenancy Support Service.

We’re here to help all our customers live well and stay safe at home.


Thursday, May 18, 2017