Hoarding can become a serious risk to many people, and it is also considered as a psychiatric disorder. Most of us have seen individuals with such disorder appear on television, such as in Oprah. The people who suffer from such mental disorder often experience a number of personal problems in their lives. It is crucial for people to understand what hoarding is all about, and the possible consequences that might result to such disorder. Early prevention can help prevent this psychological disorder from escalating.

What Is Hoarding?

Hoarding is a psychological disorder, which is characterized by excessive collection of items, and the person’s inability to discard items. There are also some cases wherein the individual continues to purchase various items even when they are not needed. Hoarding is also known as an obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD; however, a lot of hoarders do not have any OCD-related symptoms. This psychological disorder creates extremely cramped and unhealthy living conditions in an individual’s home; thus, affecting their daily lives and relationships.

Hoarding And Its Legal Consequences

Hoarders also tend to neglect their family, especially their children, due to the build-up of possessions that threatens their safety, hinder development and care, and the absence of routine care activities, such as having a place to eat, bathe, and sleep. The consequences of hoarding are not limited to the destruction of relationships between family and friends. Hoarding can also lead to public health and fire safety problems. In addition, hoarding animals, which is one type of hoarding, can also lead to animal cruelty, starving, and maltreated animals.

It is very unfortunate that hoarders are unable to see this as a problem; thus making treatment very challenging and complicated. Hoarders fail to realize the dangers of hoarding. For this reason, people who hoard do not feel motivated to make necessary changes in the condition of their home. In extreme hoarding cases, people affected by hoarding can seek legal help to address the problem. Here is a list of some actions that can be taken by affected individuals:

  • Other people may try calling for social service workers to take the children away from the adult who has been hoarding, and neglecting to care for the children. Hoarding constitutes abuse or neglect of the children; hence, social service workers can seek guardianship of the said children.
  • The members of public health or fire departments may also seek the help a court judge to reprimand the hoarder, and bring the property in compliance with the health and safety codes.
  • In case of animal hoarding, the animal welfare workers may appeal to the court to remove abused, maltreated, and neglected animals from the animal hoarder.

Legal interventions for hoarding may include eviction of the individual from his/her rented home, required clean out, and removal of children and other affected individuals from the property. In cases of animal hoarding, the hoarder may spend time in jail while awaiting trial; however, they can still get out of jail by posting bail. Legal ramifications for this type of hoarding may include paying fines up to $1000, and being arrested for animal cruelty or neglect. The legal consequences may also be associated with the number of animals that were harmed, and if the animal hoarder is a repeat offender. The initial punishment may span up to six months, but if the hoarder continues to hoard animals, the offender may get up to four years in jail.

People who hoard do not realize the extent and seriousness of their psychological disorder. They do not even realize the legal effects of their hoarding. It is only when the authorities get involved that they are forced to do something about it.

Kris Lim is a blogger who specializes in hoarding cases. She discusses the legal consequences of hoarding, and she also regularly contributes articles Laguna Beach bail bonds agencies.