Your Tenant’s a Hoarder, Now What?
You may not notice it for a while, maybe years, because the tenant pays their rent on time and rarely complains about anything. Then one day you go to look at something inside the home and you find out they’ve been collecting “stuff” and filling up your property with it. How do you handle this? What are your rights as the property owner or manager?
What is Hoarding?
American Psychiatric Association recognizes Hoarding as a Mental Disorder, a person specifically and persistently have difficulty discarding, parting, and throwing away possessions regardless of their usage. Because APA classifies this as a disorder/disability, hoarder’s who are also tenants may be protected under the Fair Housing Act.
Landlords cannot deny tenancy to a hoarder, or evict them just because they’re a hoarder, because it is considered a discrimination against a disability. This means that in cases of a hoarder tenant, a Landlord must make reasonable adjustments for them to live comfortably before a landlord can try to evict them.
Identifying a Hoarder
Learn to differentiate a Hoarder from just plain dirty or lazy slumtenant. As opposed to a messy cluttered tenant, a hoarder goes beyond average clutter and it often affects the safety of others and the home. Here are some issues to monitor:
- Impeded exits and entryways
- Covered ventilation ducts
- Compromised alarms and other safety equipment
- Undisposed perishables attracting pests
- Accumulated exterior junk that may attract & harbor rodents and mosquitos
- Excessive weight of stuff affecting the structural integrity of the property.
What can a Landlord do?
Here are some steps to follow if you do have a Hoarder before you can evict them.
- Get legal advice: It’s always better to know beforehand your options if you have a difficult hoarder of a tenant. A lawyer will be able to give you a sound advice on how to proceed.
- Document EVERYTHING: Take pictures of the property’s condition and take notes of the all the damages. Be it walls, carpets, faucets, everything! This will be your proof in the future if you need to evict your tenant.
- Communicate: Try to talk to your tenant and suggest they get help. There’s professional counseling they can get. Or, you can offer a schedule of special clean up to get your tenant to transform their living space.
The tenant’s hoarding behavior may constitute as a violation of the lease and be grounds for eviction. Although keep in mind the Fair Housing Act and State laws and be careful when handling these issues.