How Are Hoarding Situations Uncovered?
People who hoard are not likely to self-refer because most do not easily accept help. Instead, hoarding is usually discovered because:
- An emergency first-responder enters the premises to deal with an emergency and discovers the situation.
- A utility company enters the premises to deal with a problem or read the meter.
- A family member or neighbor refers for services for the person who is hoarding.
- The person becomes ill and requires home-based services.
- The person needs to move or "down-size."
- The person is involved in eviction proceedings.
Notes on limits on access to person's property without invitation.
Police and fire safety personnel are only authorized to enter the premises without consent of a person residing there if they have a search or arrest warrant, are in pursuit of a person suspected to have committed a felony or there is an "emergency situation requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall …the destruction of evidence" (People v. Ramey, 1976).
Authorization for housing enforcement authorities to enter a homeowner's premises without invitation is determined city to city. Some communities allow housing enforcement staff to enter the premises without invitation if the utilities are not working, especially in the winter. Others require a concern of immediate safety to the person or property. Please contact the Chief Housing Inspector of the community involved.
Adult Protective Services are only authorized to enter the premises without invitation if they have a court order, and the police will enforce it.
Human services and health services agencies may not enter the premises without the permission of a person residing there. In these circumstances, substantial engagement efforts may be needed to get into the residence. Oftentimes, intentions by relatives and friends do not lead to willingness or cooperation by the individual who hoards and can lead to a break in relationships.