For landlords and property managers, accidental property damage, late payments, and neighborly disputes come with the territory. These are main problems landlords typically deal with day in and day out. But certain troublesome situations can present much greater challenges.
Hoarding is one of them.
Addressing a tenant with a hoarding problem is tricky business. It’s an issue that has to be approached in a very delicate and thoughtful manner in order to avoid confrontations and legal issues.
Difficult as it may be, landlords need to take immediate measures as hoarding behavior may compromise the health and the safety of the affected person, as well as the well-being of other residents nearby. Hoarding can also affect the integrity of the property itself!
Hoarding is a Mental Disorder
Someone who is a compulsive hoarder meets the definition of disability because hoarding is considered to be caused by a mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of the person’s major life activities.
This means that landlords and property managers have the duty to offer adequate help to the hoarder and to make a reasonable accommodation before taking extreme measures, such as eviction.
Risks of Hoarding
Hoarding behavior poses several risks to the property and the tenant himself.
Compulsive hoarding often results in poor sanitary conditions and restricted living space which causes a variety of problems, like:
- increased fire hazards
- obstruction of emergency exits and passageways
- pest infestations
- easier spread of contagious diseases, etc.
All these conditions are not only dangerous but also in direct violation of state sanitary, electrical, or building codes, as well as different local regulations and animal care standards.
Why Do People Hoard?
According to experts, hoarders have often been through a traumatic event.
Hoarding is usually triggered by a very stressful or traumatic experience and more often than not, the person involved may have suffered a bitter loss which explains the fear of parting with personal possessions, however worthless they may be.
What landlords need to know is that hoarder renters are usually long term tenants who pay rent on time and don’t engage in hostile activities.
What Landlords Should Do About Hoarders
Hoarding may constitute a non-economic breach of the lease, which could be grounds for eviction. Remember, you can’t evict a tenant for hoarding, you can evict them for something else.
Check to see if your tenant is in breach of contract for any of the following reasons:
- Directly damaging to the property
- Blocking emergency exits
- Interfering with ventilation or sprinkler systems
- Storing potentially explosive materials
- Keeping perishable goods in a manner that could attract mold or rodents
- Housing animals in a way that breaks the law or lease agreement
There is a thin line between dirty tenants and hoarders, but either way, you should take action sooner rather than later.