Minimum Acceptable Standards for hoarding

The Hoarding Connection receives many calls from the community on hoarding issues. Often these calls are from housing coordinators and housing managers seeking assistance and guidance on what are the minimum standards to make it acceptable for individuals to reside in a home or apartment building. While the Hoarding Connection has promulgated best practices from the Orange County (California) Hoarding Task Force, we believe it will be useful to provide specific guidelines to individuals struggling with this issue.

These Minimum Acceptable Standards are intended as guidelines to help professionals determine whether a hoarding situation impedes safety and livability.


There is adequate access for first responders to be able to remove the individual(s) in case of an emergency. That is, a pathway exists that is large enough (at least 3' wide) to allow an ambulance crew to move a gurney to each room in the house.


The kitchen is functional as a kitchen.

  1. The stove or method of cooking (hot plate, toaster oven, etc.) has no combustible materials in it, on it, or near it.

  2. If the stove is not being used, it is disconnected, either unplugged if electric or shut off at the gas valve if gas.

  3. The kitchen sink is accessible and usable.

  4. The refrigerator is in working order.


The bathroom is functional as a bathroom.

  1. The toilet must be in full working order.

  2. The sink must be in full working order.

  3. The tub/or shower should be usable. With many elderly people who sponge bathe adequately, this last item is not as critical. Indeed, with mobility impairments, it might be safer that the tub not be used.


There is a functional, defined sleeping area.

  1. There is adequate access to the sleeping area.

  2. Any accumulation of goods does not prevent the sleeping area from being used for sleeping.


Working smoke detectors are present in the living space.

(In applicable situations) There is a three-foot clearance around the furnace and hot water tank.


Minimum Acceptable Standards for Hoarding were developed by Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and the Hoarding Connection of Cuyahoga County, 2014