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Clutter and hoarding

Learn how you can get help when clutter and hoarding becomes a problem.

Many people have clutter in their homes. Clutter is normal, but it can be a problem if the amount or type of clutter starts to:

  • interfere with everyday living – for example, if you're unable to wash or cook in your home or cannot access rooms
  • cause significant distress or negatively affects the quality of your life, or your family’s life
  • pose a significant risk to you or to neighbouring properties

When clutter becomes a problem in this way, it could be a result of hoarding behaviour. People with hoarding behaviour may keep things for the same reasons as anyone else, including sentimental value or because the item is, or could be, useful.

People can find hoarding behaviour embarrassing to talk about, but it is very common, and is thought to affect up to 1.2 million people in the UK.

How we can support you

When the risk posed by hoarding behaviour is significant, we can work with residents to reduce the clutter in their home. For example, we can help when:

  • a resident contacts us and asks us for support
  • a resident’s hoarding behaviour could be linked to self-neglect or safeguarding concerns
  • a resident’s hoarding is contributing to a pest control issue
  • a resident’s hoarding has health and safety implications (including fire safety)
  • a resident’s clutter rating is a Level 5 or above, or an organisation is unable to carry out a statutory duty (for example, annual gas inspection) due to clutter.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, and we use a combination of support, intervention and enforcement measures to reduce the clutter and/or reduce the fire risk in a property to an acceptable level.

Some of the things we can do to help include:

  • carrying out individual fire safety inspections, identifying risks and putting in protective measures, like additional fire detection
  • engaging with agencies who are already working with residents in alignment with our self-neglect and hoarding multi-agency policy, practice guidance and toolkit
  • signposting or referring the resident to statutory organisations such as social care, who may be able to offer:
    • peer support
    • cognitive behavioural therapy
    • emotional support
    • counselling
    • a health care or domiciliary care package
    • decluttering support
  • assistance with moving home
  • property adaptations to meet care needs or health and safety risks, for example, fire risks 
  • working with the resident’s family members or friends (with their consent)
  • in some circumstances, we may arrange a full or partial clearance of a property, with a resident’s consent - residents will be recharged the cost of clearance

People with hoarding behaviours often worry that if they approach us for support, their tenancy will be at risk. We may need to take legal action in circumstances where someone has refused support, it has been unsuccessful, or the risk is serious or immediate. This is always viewed as a last resort, and we will always work with residents where possible.

Support available for people who have a cluttered home

If you or someone you know has a cluttered home, there is support available. Your GP or your local Health Centre should be your first point of contact.

If you live in one of our properties, let us know about hoarding behaviour as soon as you can.

Contact us