Watch: Inside 'worst' hoarder house where owner had piled up rubbish for 30 years
Cleaners have tackled the "worst" case of hoarding they have ever seen, with rubbish piled so high inside they had to enter using a ladder through an upstairs window.
The affected home in Lancashire belonged to a man in his late 70s who lived alone and passed away after hoarding items for 30 years.
The team sent to clean the house after he died found it full of trash, including the bodies of three or four of the owner's pet cats, which had been wrapped in newspaper and put on shelves.
The house has since been totally cleared in a major clean-up operation that took days.
It is thought the man who lived in the house suffered from hoarding disorder, in which sufferers cannot bring themselves to part with items, often to the detriment of their mental and physical health.
The house was so packed with rubbish that all of the entrances were blocked, meaning cleaners had to initially enter through a second storey window using a ladder.
Among the debris inside were storage boxes, newspapers, dead plants, office furniture and old kitchen appliances.
It is understood the man, who had no close family when he died, had at one point planned to open a telecoms museum, which was why he kept numerous items.
The house was cleared by heir-hunting company Blanchards, based in Kent, and it took them 45 hours to make any kind of headway, removing piles of rubbish into dozens of skips.
The only space in the house was an armchair next to the cats, where the man is thought to have spent all of his time.
The team from Blanchards described the case as “heartbreaking.”
One said: “It was one of our saddest and most memorable cases.
"I have cleared hundreds of properties and never have I seen hoarding be so bad that I have had to climb a ladder and enter through the upstairs window as all other entrances were blocked."
Heirs for the man were eventually found - second cousins twice removed who did not know him.
Much of the house was filled with old phone equipment which he had retained even after plans in the 1990s to start a museum didn't materialise.
A spokesperson for Blanchards said: “He wanted to open a telecom museum as telecom was his previous line of work.
“Over the years he collected mounds of telecom technology. He began storing these telecom artefacts in containers.
“Then, when they were full he began filling under the floorboards. Then all of upstairs was full of boxes, then all of downstairs, and the hoarding progressed from there.
“No museum was ever opened and after 40 years the property was almost impossible to move around in, filled with rubbish and dead pets.
“Encountering so many cases like this, we have come to learn hoarding is a mental illness and although to most people a lot of it would be deemed as rubbish, to hoarders it is considered highly valuable and even sentimental.”
What is Hoarding Disorder and can it be treated by the NHS?
According to the NHS, a hoarding disorder is when "someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter".
It said the items can be of little or not monetary value.
The NHS said hoarding disorder is difficult to treat as sufferers do not see it as a problem, or are reluctant to seek help because they feel embarrassed about it.
It said mental health problems associated with hoarding include severe depression, psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
If you think someone you know has a hoarding disorder, you can try to persuade them to visit a GP, the NHS said.
The GP may then be able to refer them to a local community mental health team, which may have a therapist familiar with issues such as hoarding.
The main way to treat a hoarding disorder is through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Council to investigate 'horrendous' hoarding in Latchford (Warrington Guardian)