How to Clean a Hoarders House
Having a hoarder in a rental property is often the #1 fear of landlords and property managers today. This can be a dangerous situation, depending on the level of the hoarder, and you need to be prepared for anything. You will need to put on appropriate universal personal protection items because you will likely be exposed to animal droppings and other harmful substances. Homes that once contained animal hoarders need to be professionally evaluated for bio-hazards. Otherwise make sure that you grab many heavy-duty trash bags, lots of empty boxes, methods to label items, disinfectant, and your standard cleaning items. Some landlord/tenant laws require that you sufficiently protect a tenant's personal items for a certain amount of time – you may need to rent a couple of off-site storage areas if that is the case.
To Get Started, Just Pile Stuff Up
You need to get organized first. The best way to get organized in a hoarder's home is to go room by room and create 4 different piles: keep it, donate it, trash it, or recycle it.
What Items Can You Keep?
If there aren't severe health hazards in the home [where everything just gets trashed], then there are some items that can legitimately be used or sold. Don't place anything into this pile that you “might” use one day. That's how hoarding begins.
What Items Can Be Donated?
Anything that can be used by someone else can be donated. This is where all of that “I might use it one day” stuff should go. Under current tax laws, you'll want to itemize these items before donating them so that you can get a full deduction on that year's tax returns. The work to donate might be a little extensive, but in a hoarder's home, it could also mean a 5 figure tax deduction. There's value in doing it.
Trash Just Needs to go Away
If something has been broken for more than a month, then it should just be thrown away. Anything that is obviously trash should also be included in this pile. One word of advice: be careful about putting trash into certain piles because items can leak and if you've got the pile on a carpeted floor, you might end up creating more work for yourself. You may wish to create one large trash pile outside.
Do You Have a Recycling Service?
Some hoarder's homes can have over a ton of newspaper and other recycleables in them. If you have a local recycling service that will come to pick up these items for you, then it makes sense to pile them separately. If you have aluminum can deposits and a house full of cans, then you can make some legit cash by separating them out. If not, then you may wish to just put stuff in this category into the giant trash pile. At this point, you've just got a lot of heavy labor to do. The items you need to keep or store for a tenant get immediately separated and stored. From there, eliminate the piles on a room-by-room basis and then do the final clean as you would with any other property to make it suitable for living in once again. This will take some time to do it right and require sweat equity, but the end result will be worth it.
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