Hoarding help in Sovereign homes

20 May 2019 

Hoarding is estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population, around 1.2 million people.

At Sovereign, our housing officers are currently working with around 100 residents to try and tackle the difficult issue, but it’s likely that there are more.

Spotting homes where hoarding is taking place can be difficult because most hoarders live alone, maintaining isolated lifestyles. It’s estimated that only 5% of hoarders come into contact with professional help, but reaching out to people is essential for their safety, and the safety of others.

Two years ago, Sovereign established a Hoarding Project Group, designed to share best practice and experience on how to best work with someone who is hoarding. 

Housing Services Manager Dale Evans has blogged on the subject, developing a guide for other housing associations and organisations – or even friends or family members – to use to support someone who is hoarding.

She said: “We often find out about hoarding when we try to enter a property to conduct a gas or electricity check. Residents can be reluctant to let us in, but it’s really important from a safety point of view that we work with them to make sure we can gain proper access, both for the resident and their neighbours. 

“The traditional picture of a hoarder’s home being full of rubbish is not always accurate. In fact, hoarders can be incredibly fastidious – it’s just the sheer volume of things that can make the condition dangerous. Of course, there are homes where the items being stored can range from broken toasters to bags of newspapers, but these things still carry value for the person that is hoarding. 

“That’s why talking with and listening to our residents is so important. Work to clear a hoarder’s home is gradual, and takes place with their leadership and consent rather than being enforced. 

“We offer understanding rather than heavy-handed instructions, as we work together to get them and their home to a better place, getting them to own the changes that need to be made.”