Forced clean-ups do not work in addressing hoarding problems and funding for extreme cases is unacceptably low, according to one of Australia's leading experts on the disorder.
Meanwhile, ACT Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said issues with a well-known house in Kaleen, where white goods have been stockpiled around the property and on neighbouring public land, were about public safety, not mental health.
Professor Mike Kyrios, a clinical psychologist and executive dean of Flinders University's College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, said services should be positioned to work with individuals rather than simply intervene.
"Usually, by the time services are involved, it's almost too late. It needs to be done much earlier," he said.
Poorly executed early interventions could create a risk of self harm for people who felt defenceless after their possessions were removed, Professor Kyrios said.
It comes after the ACT Liberals this week introduced legislation that would strengthen government powers to allow forced clean-ups and frequent property inspections. The party used the Kaleen house as a backdrop for the announcement.
Mr Coe addressed the media on Friday after mental health and hoarding support groups raised concerns that the Liberal plan, announced on Wednesday, would punish people in need of support.
"It's just not OK that you can have a property with 250 white goods, seemingly running a business ... yet the government seems absolutely unwilling to do anything about it," Mr Coe said.
"This doesn't appear to be a mental health issue, this does not appear to be a hoarding issue."
He said there were a handful of blocks in the ACT that would be targeted by the proposed legislation, which did not create any new offences and did not target the inside of houses.
Seeking to cast the issue as one of enforcement, Mr Coe said the right balance needed to be struck between public health and safety, and mental health.
"We're not actually going to see more orders issued. What we're saying is that the government should enforce the orders they put in place," he said.
Mr Coe said he was supportive of increased services for people with hoarding issues but this was not the focus of the legislation.
"What we're talking about in this legislation is not line and length hoarding problems, we're talking about ten or so properties in Canberra that are rat- and snake-infested and are a genuine public health and public safety issue," he said.
Professor Kyrios said governments needed to find a positive way to address hoarding.
"This problem is growing. We're a consumer-oriented culture, we have social networks that have broken down. A lot of people with hoarding problems also have social interaction difficulties and they stay away from other people because they've lost trust.
"So you can imagine going in and having these enforced clean-ups is actually just going to make the problem even worse, really," he said.
Woden Community Service director of mental health and housing Pam Boyer said there were often underlying issues in cases of hoarding and a lack of funding had made running ongoing programs difficult.
"Part of the problem that we've got is that we've got so many agencies involved and there's never been any continuity of support and funding, so there's constantly new people coming in.
"So you get new people's reactions and that in itself is quite traumatic for the person who is experiencing this," she said.
Enforced cleans could sometimes be necessary in cases of unsafe or unsanitary environments, but these could be done in a "sensitive way", Ms Boyer said.
She said the Liberals' proposal was frustrating and risked creating unnecessary stress while leading to poor outcomes.
"We too often just look at the clutter or what we see as rubbish, we look at the mess, and we don't actually look at the person. We forget there is a person, who invariably lives in very complex and difficult circumstances, and we need to remember that that person needs assistance.
"They don't just need punishment for living like they do.
"I do understand that there may need to be some regulation to come in and help drive a bit of change but in doing that I would certainly be extremely cautious about putting penalties on people that are going to put them in extreme financial circumstances," Ms Boyer said.
Although there were good treatment options for underlying issues that lead to hoarding - cognitive behaviour therapy could achieve strong improvements in 12 weeks - funding models let down people with hoarding issues, Professor Kyrios said.
Woden Community Service this year ran a $90,000 hoarding advocacy services trial funded by the ACT Health Directorate, which is currently being evaluated.
The trial used a case management process to connect people with other relevant support services, including cleaners and gardeners.
The ACT government's hoarding case management group currently manages five cases and is monitoring one previously monitored case, an ACT government spokeswoman said.