An elderly couple whose house was declared a ‘biohazard’ by paramedics were warned their home was so dirty they could have caught sepsis or other deadly infections.
The couple’s son broke down in tears when he discovered the mess his parents had been living in after ’20 years of hoarding.’ The parents had refused to allow their children to visit them at home for years and insisted on meeting up in public places.
But when his dad was rushed to hospital, emergency services were forced to enter the mould-ridden property and discovered the shocking living conditions, before making the family aware.
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George Mensah, who runs Merseyside House clearance, was called in to tackle the property in Liverpool earlier this year and described it as the ‘one of the worst jobs’ he has ever done.
The 58-year-old cleaner said the entire three-bedroom house was piled high with ‘junk’ and rubbish, which was up to chest height in places – meaning some rooms were completely inaccessible.
There wasn’t even running water or gas in the home, forcing the couple to live off water bottles, a portable cooker, electric heaters and having to manually empty the toilet since there was no running water.
The anonymous family were forced to intervene when their dad was hospitalized due to ill health, with paramedics discovering and informing them of the ‘biohazard’ living conditions. After seven days of clearing the hoarded trash, the property remained uninhabitable due to the extensive damage and thick mold and grime covering every surface, so George the family advised to cut their losses and auction it.
George, from Liverpool, said: “The place stunk and there were flies and maggots everywhere. It was absolutely terrible. There was stagnant water and milk bottles that had separated with sour milk in them behind the front door.
“On the hoarding scale it was a ten – you can’t get anything in there at all. It was definitely one of the worst ones I’ve done. You can’t open the doors because they put their arm in and throw things into the room so it’s like an avalanche when you try to open it.
“It was all just junk. There was some good quality stuff like a coffee machine but it was just absolutely ruined and contaminated. We were breaking things as we were going in because there was nowhere to stand. In the living room it was up to chest height.
“There was dust everywhere and it was rat infested – there was chewed up paper and mess everywhere. Even for a fit person to live in those conditions you have got to have a detrimental effect on your health because there’s airborne bacteria you’re breathing in. “
The clearance specialist has been running his business for ten years, working alongside social services, local councils and private families to clear out hoarded properties. Paramedics allegedly branded the home a ‘biohazard’ and warned that the elderly occupants were at risk of catching sepsis or other infections due to the state of the property.
The cleaner said the elderly couple’s son was horrified to see the state of the property when they both entered it together for the first time.
George said: “When we went in the son broke down and cried. It was an emotional one really. They were just living in the bedroom because you couldn’t get in most of the rooms and they were cooking on a little portable cooker and using a kettle.
“They had no running water so they were making cups of tea with bottles of water and washing themselves with baby wipes. They had no gas either so for heating they had a string of electrical heaters daisy-chained around the house, which is very dangerous .
“The bathroom toilet had leaked so over years all the wood had rotted – you could put a ball point pen into it and it just crumbled – so they had to empty the toilet.”
It took the professional clearance and five of his workers seven days to empty the hoarded house, in which time they filled eight skips. They did what they could to salvage the trashed home but George says he advised the family to auction the home and not spend anymore money on it due to its extremely poor state.
George said: “That’s how we left it because we couldn’t do any more, it was down to the builders then. The son said the parents kept saying they needed to go back to the house and get this and that but the paramedics told they ‘don’t go in the property’ because it was a biohazard.
“We tried to retrieve some possessions like jewellery, photographs and heirlooms but everything else was ruined. They walked away with nothing, just the clothes on their back and that was it.
“They were impressed by how much we’d cleared out but they were still sad because it’s like your house going on fire and the firemen put it out – you’ve still lost your house.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.