We’ve all, at some point, had to endure the experience of an unsanitary public restroom or let ourselves slip a little when keeping up on our housework; however, at what point do our surroundings exceed the point of simply being a little messy and unclean and cross into territory of being completely unsafe? What can be done to prevent our living space from becoming completely uninhabitable?
The definition of an unsanitary living space can include a multitude of varying points such as the build-up of filth around the home. In extreme situations of excess dirt and grime, this can lead to infestations of both vermin, such as rats, and insects, which another key factor that can be used to define unliveable surroundings. Broken home appliances such as stoves and ovens, as well as a lack of access to basic utility requirements like gas, water, and electricity can also help in identifying conditions that should be considered to be uninhabitable, as well as unsuitable or unsafe building construction and the poor maintenance of a household.
Depending upon the severity of the situation it may take several, or just one, on these definitions to foster a situation in which a property is considered completely unsafe for human inhabitants. However, these two situations, a residence being considered unsanitary and being considered unliveable, are not mutually exclusive. For example a living space with no access to heat to within winter months could be determined to be uninhabitable, but this does not necessarily mean that the space is unsanitary; however, poorly maintained surroundings could leave a household vulnerable to infestations or the occurrence of things such as mould and mildew, which could deem the space to be both unsafe and unliveable.
In a number of situations, those situated within a residence are found to be responsible for a living space becoming unsanitary and unsafe to inhabit, hoarding being a serious disorder known to affect an estimated 2-6% of us within our lifetime.
In the more extreme cases of hoarding, individuals tend to do more than simply just collect clutter, tending to save a number of items long past their normal use-by-date or period of use. Items most commonly seen to be hoarded can include things such as paper, like magazines and newspapers, packaging, such as boxes and various containers, as well as items of clothing. Rarer, but riskier and potentially unhygienic, forms of hoarding can involve the keeping of a number of pets within the household, or the preservation of waste materials; this can include human waste. Hoarding can become truly hazardous when it takes over areas of the home, preventing it from being occupied within a safe manner as access to exits, doorways, and appliances such as toilets, sinks, and showers becomes blocked off.
Often, behaviours such as hoarding can be attributed to serious disability or mental illnesses, however the true root causes of hoarding are not yet fully understood by medical professionals. The main determination usually carried out by professionals, including housing authorities, as to assist in the identification of hoarding behaviours is whether the accumulation of a large number of items to the point that access to the property and its appliances is limited is of personal preference to the inhabitant or whether the behaviour is a compulsion that is beginning to impact both the safety and health of the individual.
If you suspect that someone you know resides within a unsanitary, and potentially unsafe, living space, it is vital that this is reported; benefiting the inhabitants of the residents in the long term and also preventing the situation from escalating and possibly reaching a point at which the risk could be considered life threatening.
Our team at Swift Cleaning Solutions are highly experienced hoarding clean up experts dedicated to restoring homes affected by hoarding and unsafe living conditions to their former glory. With our services available 7 days a week, our staff are always on hand to help you find the solution you require. To learn more about the cleaning services we provide to those affected by hoarding, visit our dedicated hoarder cleaning services page or get in touch for free, and confidential, advice today.