Code Compliance

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Code Compliance is open 8AM - 4PM Mon-Thurs and 9:15AM - 4PM Fridays.

703-324-1300
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 1016
Fairfax, VA 22035

Jack W. Weyant, P.E.,
Director

Hoarding

hoarding12.jpgHoarding is considered to be a mental illness or a medical condition that may require evaluation and treatment.  It may be defined as 'a pattern of behavior characterized by the excessive acquisition, collection, and retention of objects (newspapers, trash, unopened sale items, clothing, paper, rotting food and even animal(s), along with an inability or unwillingness to discard those objects, causing significant distress or impairment.'  Conditions in the home of a hoarder can become so extreme that all available space from floor to ceiling may be occupied and the day-to-day activities, as well as the emergency access, of the home's occupants are impeded.

For suspected hoarding situations in your neighborhood, please contact DCC (Department of Code Compliance) rather than attempting to clean up the house or solve the person's hoarding problem yourself.

If you think a family member might be a hoarder, it is recommended you seek professional help for that person or professional guidance for yourself in handling the situation.

Hoarders are generally unaware that their lifestyle is a problem and rarely seek treatment, and it is difficult to change this type of behavior without professional assistance. Consult a mental health or medical professional, or contact DCC for recommendations and referrals.  For more information on procedures in a possible hoarding case, see the Hoarding Protocol  diagram.

 

Signs of Hoarding

  • Extreme collection and storage of items in the home and yard.
  • Accumulation of combustible materials (newspapers, magazines and rubbish).
  • Blocked exits (doors/windows).
  • Narrow or blocked pathways in the home.
  • Rat and/or insect infestations.
  • Rotting food and/or used food containers, odor.

More Signs of Hoarding

  • Human and/or animal waste.
  • Long-term neglect of home maintenance.
  • Non-working utilities, such as heat, running water, sewer and refrigeration.
  • Non-operating vehicles, or hoarded vehicles

Animal Hoarding

While less prevalent, animal hoarding poses a serious health threat to the resident, the community and the animals being kept.

Animal overpopulation in a home leads to unhealthy waste accumulation, starvation, disease and animal death. Decomposing remains also adds to the unhealthy environment.

Typically, an animal hoarder is unaware of the filth and odor actually present in and around the home, and insists the animals are being cared for appropriately.

Fairfax County Hoarding Committee

Formed in 1998, the Fairfax County Hoarding Task Force (since renamed the Fairfax County Hoarding Committee) combines the resources of multiple county agencies to provide a coordinated response to residential hoarding when it threatens life, safety and property. Each agency provides a specialty service that cannot be provided by any one other agency.

Upon receipt of a suspected hoarding complaint by DCC, an inspection and evaluation are made to determine if the property and its occupants are safe. Next, county agencies represented in the Fairfax County Hoarding Committee are contacted and asked to respond. See the DCC Hoarding Protocol.