Jaqueline manages a homeowner’s association in Long Beach. The community consists of interconnected condominiums. In this case, four units are connected, with two residences on the ground floor and a pair of condos above them. The four individual residences share common plumbing facilities. Each of the condos are individually owned.
There is a plumbing issue in this particular fourplex. Due to the common plumbing facilities, a plumber hired to address the problem had to enter the unit owned by a man named Benjamin. In simple terms, the state of affairs in Benjamin’s condominium is so horrific that the plumber cannot undertake necessary work on the plumbing. He refuses to return to the property – and understandably so. In a moment, we detail what we have learned about what is happening in Benjamin’s residence, a situation that not only impacted the plumber but the other residents in the adjoining condos.
Hazardous Situation in Benjamin’s Condominium
As mentioned a moment ago, the state of affairs in Benjamin’s condo is horrific, truly deplorable. Eco Bear has learned that the situation in the condo includes:
The premises are hoarded. What this means is that Benjamin is engaged either in hoarding behavior or in fact, suffers from hoarding disorder (a defined mental health condition). A great deal of the unit is packed with a variety of items, seemingly including garbage and trash.
While the unit in question has water service capabilities, it has been learned that Benjamin has not used water in his condo for upwards of six years. Benjamin’s water is on but not being used at all. This reality raises a variety of associated issues:
- There is a concern about how Benjamin is dealing with feces and urine.
- Benjamin evidently has not bathed or engaged in other types of essential hygiene for an extended period of time.
- Not using water, in addition to the hoarding of items, Benjamin has not engaged in even minimal cleaning of the residence.
- Food is rotting in the refrigerator and elsewhere on the premises.
There is a terrible stench in and around the unit. As noted a moment ago, the state of affairs, including the foul odor, is so significant that the plumber cannot work in the premises. Following his time in Benjamin’s unit, the plumber reported feeling physically ill.
To move towards addressing the plumbing issue that impacts all four units, and to deal with the state of affairs in Benjamin’s apartment that affects not only him but his neighbors as well, Jacqueline advised the man that she was going to reach out to Adult Protective Services or a similar agency. This pronouncement resulted in Benjamin agreeing to have his condo professionally cleaned. It was at this juncture that the HOA manager contacted Eco Bear.
Information Comes to Light About Hoarding Condo Owner’s Physical Health
When Benjamin finally agreed to professional cleaning, Jacqueline learned that Benjamin has stage four pancreatic cancer. He has been receiving chemotherapy. However, he cannot physically handle a full dose and the chem process has been scaled back. The bottom line regarding Benjamin’s health is that he is dying and likely will pass away in the more immediate future.
Jacqueline faces a significant moral dilemma. She worries that forcing the cleanup of Benjamin’s home will add a more substantial amount of stress at the point when his life appears to be ending. She is faced with the question of whether she should proceed with the cleaning process or does she wait until Benjamin passes away.
Eco Bear Solution
Eco Bear proposed a more moderate course of action. Rather than deal with all of the challenging issues in the condominium, Eco Bear suggests cleaning the kitchen and seeking out feces buckets or urine bottles. The Eco Bear professionals believe this course will be far less stressful on Benjamin.
The thought is that dealing with these issues will resolve, at least in part, the stench in and around the unit. This may make the unit better accessible to a plumber as well as significantly lessen or eliminate the foul odor impacting surrounding residences. This is likely to be of particular assistance to the condo resident who lives directly above Benjamin’s unit.
Supportive Assistance for Benjamin
At this time, action by the HOA manager and Eco Bear is on pause. There is a possibility that Benjamin will transition to an assisted living facility or hospice. This would permit the man to get the support and assistance that he truly does need. In addition, it would permit the cleaning of the condo without interfering with Benjamin’s daily life.
Finally, due to the state of affairs at the condo and in Benjamin’s life, his sister may take over his affairs (perhaps through a guardianship and conservatorship). This very well may be the level of supportive assistance that Benjamin needs in order to get his affairs and home in order.