There were many issues with a circumstance I encountered in a recent inspection. One those many issues was a condition called HOARDING.
The Mayo Clinic says this about hoarding:
" Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets often in unsanitary conditions.
Hoarding, also called compulsive hoarding and compulsive hoarding syndrome, may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But many people who hoard don't have other OCD-related symptoms.
People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But intensive treatment can help people who hoard understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives."
Although I have never seen the TV show on the topic to know previously exactly what this condition is, but my experience in home inspecting now includes it. I arrived at this property to hear an agent from the County say that the property was "1000% better" than her previous visit. She said that at least you could walk around the house.
There was so much stuff, in order to create those "passageways," it had to be put somewhere. There were so many people living in the house that I had to go through "rooms," to get to other "rooms." Rooms were defined by piles of stuff.
There was no table in the house. There is no room for one!
There were lots of beds.
Only one location that was a bed could be identified as a bed.
This is it.
The bed is on the right.
In order to create passageways through the house, "cleaning it up" because of County orders, the stuff has to be put somewhere.
This is a space created in the upstairs room to be a bedroom.
I was able to walk, but not easily. This space is approximately 1/3 of the room. The other two thirds is hidden behind sheets tacked to the ceiling and looks like this:
You can see that no effort was made to create a passageway.
I took the picture by spreading the sheets dividing the room.
It was done this way so the County could peek into the room from the staircase to see that things had been "cleaned up," but not see beyond the sheets.
On the left a sofa is laying on its back and the pillows in front.
On the right stuff is piled onto another sofa.
On the window is what was a very nice drape, put there before these occupants moved into the house some 24 years ago. It has not been removed since. I am told the house was in pristine, remodeled and upgraded condition when these occupants moved in.
You and I might consider this to be trash or junk.
AS I ENTERED THE HOUSE, THE OCCUPANTS ASKED ME TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO DAMAGE THEIR "STUFF" AS I MADE MY WAY AROUND THE HOUSE TO DO MY INSPECTION. I PROMISED I WOULD.
The basement contained an "apartment" previously unknown to the County, with a family, including four children, four dogs and where two pigeons live. Yes, it is illegal to have pigeons inside a house in this County. No matter.
About 1/3 of the basement has been divided off by carpeting and sheets tacked to the ceiling. In order to create room for this "apartment," the "STUFF" had to be put somewhere.
These photos show a part of it.
The water on the floor of the left photo is there because the sump pump was unplugged. I tested it and it does not work anyway. Everything in this area is soaked with water. The moldy odor is overwhelming.
The "STUFF" needed to be put somewhere to make room to walk through the "apartment."
This is a part of it, an area in size approximately 8x10'.
The bedroom portion of this "apartment" can be seen in the previous post. It is approximately 6x8'.
I did not take pictures of the occupied bedrooms. They were just as hideous, but the "beds" were occupied, along with a lot of "STUFF" and a million, perhaps two million, roaches. These pictures would have been even more shocking.
The living conditions were hideous and unhealthful, to say the least! Shocking may not be a strong enough word.
When I arrived, early in the morning, one person apologized that the breakfast dishes had not yet been done. I was happy to see dish soap in the kitchen, but for all those adults living in the house, there were few breakfast dishes.
There were, however, many bags laying around from a nearby fast-food restaurant, still smelling of the breakfast they had contained.
I made my way around the place, besieged by cigarette smoke, blaring, large, flat-screen TVs, five window air conditioning units (one sitting on the top of a shelf and draining into a bucket), a brand-new, front loading washer and dryer operating (I could not tell how in the world they were hooked up!), roaches, mold, and unceasingly loud, screaming, arguing people.
This is not a peaceful, happy place. I was very sad as I left. My true feeling was sadness.
There were two County officials present - one speaking with the matriarch of the house (I say that because what this lady says goes) and the other following me around to protect me.
Neither official would go into the basement. The one asked me how I knew the basement was there and where to go to find it. I said, "Experience." I actually had to move things to get to the door. They had been in the house many times not realizing there was a basement, and thinking that door was a pantry. The basement is where the children living in the house were hidden, slipping them out when necessary through a broken, rear door.
Certainly there are many issues here, and HOARDING is only one of them. But, as I learned, it is a very serious problem. And this is one condition that likely will not go away as these people are relocated elsewhere.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560