For landlords and property managers, discovering that you have a hoarder tenant living in one of your properties can be distressing.
In this article, I will discuss the steps you can take to protect your property without infringing on your tenant’s rights to reasonable accommodations.
Hoarding is a Mental Disorder
Why? 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.
Types of Hoarders
What You Can Do:
Depending on their behavior, the hoarding may constitute a non-economic breach of the lease, which *could* be grounds for eviction. Though 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.
Your Action Plan:
In these situations, landlords and property managers should take the following steps:
- Document Everything
Document the condition of the property using pictures, notes and videos.
- Offer Help
Offer the hoarder professional counseling and clean-up.
- Give Notice
Put the tenant on notice and give them the opportunity to remedy the situation.
- Get Legal Advice
Consult with an attorney if the conditions do not change.
Proceed with an eviction if necessary. I detail these steps in the article, How to Evict a Tenant – The Eviction Process in 8 Easy Steps.
- Hoarding Officially Recognized as Mental Disorder in May 2013 (Property Management Insider)
- Bad News for Landlords, Hoarding is Now Recognized as a Mental Disorder (RentPrep)
- Housing Discrimination is Illegal… (HUD.gov)