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What are some common signs that hoarding may be a problem within a strata property?

Identifying signs of hoarding within a strata property is essential for early intervention and ensuring the safety and well-being of residents. Here are some common signs that hoarding may be a problem within a strata property:

Excessive Clutter: One of the most apparent signs of hoarding is the accumulation of excessive clutter, both indoors and outdoors. Common areas, such as hallways, stairwells, and common rooms, may be filled with stacks of items, making it difficult to navigate.

Blocked Walkways and Exits: Hoarded items may obstruct walkways, doorways, and emergency exits, posing a serious safety hazard in the event of a fire or other emergencies. Residents may have difficulty accessing exits or manoeuvring through common areas.

Visible Signs of Distress: Residents exhibiting signs of distress, such as anxiety, isolation, or difficulty maintaining personal hygiene, may be struggling with hoarding disorder. They may express reluctance or refusal to allow others into their living space.

Unpleasant Odours and Pests: Hoarded items can attract pests, such as rodents and insects, and may contribute to unpleasant odors within the property. Residents may notice an increase in pest activity or complain about foul smells emanating from certain units.

Visible Signs of Neglect: Hoarding may lead to neglect of the living environment, including poor sanitation, mold growth, and structural damage. Common areas may show signs of disrepair or neglect, reflecting the challenges of maintaining the property.

Utilities and Services Affected: Hoarding can impact the functioning of utilities and essential services within the property. Blocked vents or electrical outlets, overloaded circuits, and plumbing issues may arise due to hoarded items interfering with these systems.

Social Withdrawal and Isolation: Residents struggling with hoarding disorder may experience social withdrawal and isolation, avoiding interactions with neighbors or strata members. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed about the condition of their living space and may resist offers of help.

Repeated Violations of Strata Rules: Residents exhibiting hoarding behaviour may repeatedly violate strata bylaws or rules regarding cleanliness, maintenance, or storage of personal belongings. These violations may lead to conflicts within the community and strained relationships with neighbours.

It’s important for strata corporations and property managers to be vigilant and proactive in addressing signs of hoarding within the property. Early intervention, compassionate support, and collaboration with hoarding cleanup services and mental health professionals can help mitigate risks and provide assistance to residents in need.