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My dad's clutter is driving me crazy


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My dad recently got evicted from his apartment. My wife and I agreed to let him move in with us. We're not charging him rent, but in the end we worked something out where he gave us the equivalent of a 6 mo's to put towards our mortgage

 

We (wife and I) are recently married (we got married in January) and we just bought the new apartment at the beginning of July. There's a lot of stuff to set up as before we'd always lived in pre-furnished apartments. When my dad got evicted, we were still doing repairs but the place was liveable.

 

When my dad moved in, he pulled up with about 3 moving vans worth of stuff. 90% of it is junk. He had entire boxes of expired cereal and condiments. A 60-gallon garbage bag of old shoes and rags. Several computers going all the way back to the 90's. Kitchen appliances that barely work or are broken entirely. Dozens of rusted out pots and pans, hundreds of knives which are mostly dull and don't cut. Boxes of cassette tapes, VHS tapes, and players that aren't compatible with anything that works today. You get the picture.

 

We spent two days getting rid of maybe 75% of the stuff. The stuff that remains is STILL enough to fill up my living room, my guest room, half the kitchen, and spill over into the master bedroom. We can't get anything delivered (like furniture) or even do the necessary repairs because there's nowhere to work.

 

This is really driving me crazy. We tend to be pretty minimalist. Both of us were able to move most of our stuff in the back of my friend's pickup truck in one afternoon. That's for two people. And somehow my dad manages to have three times more than both of us put together.

 

What can I do? I have half a mind just to call a waste disposal company and throw out some of the stuff. We've gotten rid of the stuff that we're sure is junk, but he also has several filing cabintes of old papers which he claims are important and can't be thrown away.

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Rent a storage unit and let him haul his stuff and keep it there until he gets up on his feet and gets his own place.

 

That said, how was he evicted but able to give you money for a mortgage deposit???? Is he having some old age issues that perhaps you aren't aware of yet? Not able to manage things properly anymore? Maybe you need to focus less on artificial things and pay a bit more attention to what's going with your father's health and what is the long term plan for him - health, living, money.

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My mom died in 2013 while I was in grad school, and I think even though they were never really close, he still never got over it.

 

I think in some way he feels guilty for not being the best husband he could have been. In the run-up to my wedding he was constantly giving me a lectures about taking my marriage seriously and stuff like that.

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That said, how was he evicted but able to give you money for a mortgage deposit???? Is he having some old age issues that perhaps you aren't aware of yet? Not able to manage things properly anymore? Maybe you need to focus less on artificial things and pay a bit more attention to what's going with your father's health and what is the long term plan for him - health, living, money.

 

Maybe evicted wasn't the right word for it. His old landlord passed away from a heart attack (they were army buddies), and the family sold the building to a developer. The developer just decided not to renew the lease because they want to renovate the building.

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Sorry to hear this. Was he evicted for hoarding? It's a health hazard and very stressful to have junk and clutter everywhere. Unfortunately hoarders are more attached to their junk than to people. They generally do not care about health, hygiene or others.

 

Sadly you'll have to keep calling rubbish removal firms because he will claim everything is "important" and he can't part with it. If he insists something is vital, get a storage unit for his stuff.

 

Often the stuff they hoard is loaded with beg bugs, various insects, rodents, and a lot of toxic mold and mildew. Keep in mind he will be very combative about it and continue to collect junk and trash and keep piling it up.

 

You and your wife are probably already feeling the effects of it health wise and stress wise. Don't let his "illness" make both of you sick. Eventually it will strain your marriage. You probably already have headaches, arguments and general distress because of his "illness".

 

I disagree with pampering and indulging people like this. Why must many suffer so one individual an worship filthy trash? Landlords who evict these people have the right idea.

 

Landlords typically evict people like this because of the health hazards and reduced access to appliances, etc. It is also a serious fire hazard. When the 6 mos is up find a way to get him out.

he gave us the equivalent of a 6 mo's to put towards our mortgage

 

What can I do? I have half a mind just to call a waste disposal company and throw out some of the stuff. We've gotten rid of the stuff that we're sure is junk, but he also has several filing cabintes of old papers which he claims are important and can't be thrown away.

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Maybe evicted wasn't the right word for it. His old landlord passed away from a heart attack (they were army buddies), and the family sold the building to a developer. The developer just decided not to renew the lease because they want to renovate the building.

 

Ah, well that makes a big difference then. Still, my suggestion would be to focus more on the where he should move to from here rather than his things. It sounds like him staying with you for an extended time will simply strain or even break your relationship and otherwise make everyone miserable and there is no need for that. It's not just about his things and clutter, but everything else too. Better help him find a comfortable place and help him move into that before it all blows up on you all.

 

Rents are cheaper than normal right now, so not a bad time to get something good. There are also age restricted communities, not senior care, but so called adult only or 55+ type and in some areas they can be much cheaper than market rates in terms of rent and very nice to boot.

 

It will probably alleviate the problem and tensions much faster and in a more practical and permanent way.

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It's a good thing to support family when times get tough, or help them with a place to live are limited or just for companionship.

However, collecting/hoarding comes in many forms and as you eluded to , many do hold on to stuff after the loss of a spouse or parent to keep them alive.

 

I would bet that this is quickly going to become a wedge between you and your wife and can only get worse.

Hoarding in minor and major forms is a mental illness and can't be "cured". If you take away 4 boxes, eventually that space will be filled with 4 new boxes.

The best thing you can do is rent a storage facility for his stuff that HE pays for an he can access, and let him know of your real feelings about your living space and keeping it tidy.

You must give him some ground rules that no more "stuff" is allowed back in the place (he will probably try) after it gets moved to the storage facility.

 

Since hoarding doesn't have a good cure and removing the stuff on their behalf causes more pain and friction, all you can do is allow them to collect it offsite.

It's the only win-win. he gets to keep the junk, and you can maintain the home.

 

Besides the hoarding, if other issues arrive with him living there, you have to do your best at keeping your marriage healthy and find him a new home to live in.

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Honestly, its not healthy as newlyweds for a relative to move in. you need your time to be newlyweds - and i am not specifically referring to sex. If dad can afford to pay you, he can afford a place on his own nearby. I definitely would get a storage unit for dad and encourage dad to keep his most precious things and in-season clothes in his room. And allow a few family momentos in the main house area. He should keep all the basics that are duplicates to your home that he would need to move back out (dishes etc). If you like having dad there, maybe buying a house with an inlaw apartment or finding out if there is a small apartment available in your building.

 

It is okay for dad to keep things as long as its not total trash (old greasy pizza boxes). Its just encroaching on your space - but a lot of things he has are probably very reasonable for him to own after a lifetime.

 

Truth be told, I still have boxes in the basement from when i had a house. I just have never been able to go through them.

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Anything that doesn't fit in his room must go into storage. In the meantime start finding some appropriate senior housing for him.

The stuff that remains is STILL enough to fill up my living room, my guest room, half the kitchen, and spill over into the master bedroom.
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I hope your dad's stay is only temporary.

 

Use the half of your mind and call a waste disposal company to haul your dad's junk away and discard the rest. Sift through his old paper work and scan everything that is important. Shred and discard the rest. Original, important documents can be kept at a local bank's safety deposit box.

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I hope your dad's stay is only temporary.

 

Use the half of your mind and call a waste disposal company to haul your dad's junk away and discard the rest. Sift through his old paper work and scan everything that is important. Shred and discard the rest. Original, important documents can be kept at a local bank's safety deposit box.

 

Wow....we are talking about an adult and his possessions, not a child. Like it or not, junk or not, OP has no right to destroy his father's belongings or take control over his documents unless the man is legally held incompetent and a court of law gives the son full guardianship, which doesn't sound to be the situation here. You do not strong arm adults like that without potentially facing some legal consequences not to mention destroying whatever relationship you have. Geez.......

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Wow....we are talking about an adult and his possessions, not a child. Like it or not, junk or not, OP has no right to destroy his father's belongings or take control over his documents unless the man is legally held incompetent and a court of law gives the son full guardianship, which doesn't sound to be the situation here. You do not strong arm adults like that without potentially facing some legal consequences not to mention destroying whatever relationship you have. Geez.......

 

Agree. I think it's very selfless of you to have made space for your dad and helped him go through his stuff.

 

The idea of finding a storage unit for him to rent is great.... I think it would also be great to acknowledge that he was willing to go through and get rid of 75% of it... that's a huge amount and it probably really overwhelmed him... when I go through and get rid of stuff I have to do it in stages and some stuff it takes time to process letting go of.

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I hope your dad's stay is only temporary.

 

Use the half of your mind and call a waste disposal company to haul your dad's junk away and discard the rest. Sift through his old paper work and scan everything that is important. Shred and discard the rest. Original, important documents can be kept at a local bank's safety deposit box.

 

This is a man's lifetime of memories and records. He has a right to them. And something another person doesn't think is important may end up being VERY important later.

He never said his dad is 97. If they are young newlyweds or mid 30s - dad could be anywhere from mid 40s to 60s depending on how old he was when the OP was born. Even if he is 70 - its not "end of life going through dad's stuff"

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I may be a bit skewed but this is my upbringing. A child never asks for rent from a parent. I thought it was very generous of him to have given you money towards your mortgage. It's your duty to offer him lodging and care in the remainder of his life if he needs it. The excess of items can be gone through with him and he needs to understand that he's welcome to stay with conditions. That's my personal opinion.

 

In terms of your situation?

 

I think both of you as a couple should sit down first and discuss what your options are for dad and both of you need to be on the same page. You need to make up your mind and deal with your own mixed emotions before you propose anything to your spouse or discuss things because the likelihood is she's just as emotional about these disruptions or even more so than you because he's not her father.

 

Talk about it together and see whether you can come to a decision on how to handle this. Take the opportunity to do it as a team. You may be newlyweds but you are now also performing as one household/one unit or as a unified whole. You aren't kids anymore mucking around or dating and this isn't any old guy. He's your dad. I know you're both at your wits end and frustrated. Think about it for a few days and talk about it together.

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As long as your dad's stay is temporary, all of you should be ok. Just make sure his stay isn't permanent nor prolonged!

 

Of course, sift through his stuff with him. Show him the dilemma and how you're all buried alive in his stuff. Declutter by having 3 piles: One pile for donations, one pile for keep and another pile for discarded items. Then continue to cull through the stuff and whittle down the mound!

 

For charitable donations, one man's junk is another man's treasure! :smug:

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Honestly, its not healthy as newlyweds for a relative to move in. you need your time to be newlyweds - and i am not specifically referring to sex. If dad can afford to pay you, he can afford a place on his own nearby. I definitely would get a storage unit for dad and encourage dad to keep his most precious things and in-season clothes in his room. And allow a few family momentos in the main house area. He should keep all the basics that are duplicates to your home that he would need to move back out (dishes etc). If you like having dad there, maybe buying a house with an inlaw apartment or finding out if there is a small apartment available in your building.

 

It was partially her idea. We were both underemployed for several months this year, and we could have used the extra money. My dad offered to pay some money.

 

I think it would also be great to acknowledge that he was willing to go through and get rid of 75% of it

Most of it was honestly just stuff he was too lazy to get rid of. Walkmans, old mobile phones, computers, CRT monitors, expired food, old shoes. He's got lots of bottles of liquor that people have given him as a gift, but it just ends up on the shelf because he doesn't drink. I suggested that he could just give it to a different friend, but he said he'd feel guilty about it so he will go and buy the exact same kind of liquor that he already has.

 

He's the kind of guy who when something breaks, he just goes out and buys another but doesn't throw out the old one. When my mom was around she at least kept him in check, but when my mom passed he also became really lazy and puts everything off, like disposing of old appliances.

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Rental storage pods are also an option if your property allows it and that way he can have his personal belongings nearby.

 

Or, maybe if you have a shed or extra space in the garage?

 

But I concur, it's not fair it encroaches on your living space either. The effects of hoarding on other family members also has to be taken into consideration.

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If your Dad has the money to put toward your mortgage, then why not just refuse it and use it instead to set him up in his own studio apartment or a room in a boarding house?

 

It makes no sense to create a problem only to wonder how to resolve the problem.

 

Instead, skip the problem and help Dad find his own living quarters nearby.

 

If the issue is that YOU NEED Dad's money, then use a portion of it to split the cost of a storage unit with him for anything beyond what he needs to live in your home.

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It may end up costing you more just dealing with the hoarding. The exterminators (bed bugs, roaches, moths, etc) the toxic mold, and just clearing out and hauling off the rubbish.

 

Especially throw out electronics as leaking batteries and other components are extremely toxic. Do not pamper a hoarder at the expense of your marriage, and health. Do not assume he is normal and will throw toxic waste out and therefore you shouldn't touch his stuff.

 

Not to mention storing his things in a storage unit. Immediately get his toxic stuff out of all of rest of the house except his room so when he moves out the clean up won't be that horrendous. Having a hoarder move in was an a mistake even if you meant well.

 

Clutter an hoarding are very costly: https://www.clutterhoardingcleanup.com/resources/hoarding/hoarding-cleanup-costs

It makes no sense to create a problem only to wonder how to resolve the problem.
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  • 2 weeks later...
I think both of you as a couple should sit down first and discuss what your options are for dad and both of you need to be on the same page. You need to make up your mind and deal with your own mixed emotions before you propose anything to your spouse or discuss things because the likelihood is she's just as emotional about these disruptions or even more so than you because he's not her father.

 

Talk about it together and see whether you can come to a decision on how to handle this. Take the opportunity to do it as a team. You may be newlyweds but you are now also performing as one household/one unit or as a unified whole. You aren't kids anymore mucking around or dating and this isn't any old guy. He's your dad. I know you're both at your wits end and frustrated. Think about it for a few days and talk about it together.

 

My wife was the one who suggested it, ironically. It's not uncommon in my country for parents to live with children as they get older. My wife isn't from here, but she was raised with somewhat similar values. Still, I didn't want him moving in because of my experience with him.

 

When I had my first job, he came down for a long weekend and stayed for two weeks. The next time, he came for an extended vacation and basically just moved in.

 

His excuse was I had a full time job and wouldn't have enough time to do cooking or laundry, despite the fact that everyone eventually moves out of their house and has to do those things at one point in their life.

 

To be honest, it's not just the clutter that ticks me off, it's a lot of things. The constant haphazard trial and error way of doing things, and "saying thing just to be heard" (he once insisted I fold tissues a certain way after blowing my nose, for instance), or even trying to impose his rules in my house, are the big ones.

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