One of the paramount goals good rental managers strive to meet is safety and preservation of their clients’ properties. Tenants who suffer from compulsive hoarding can often cause a fair amount of stress for property managers, as safety hazards and property damage are often linked with cases of hoarding. However, because hoarding stems from deeply rooted issues, simply telling a messy tenant to clean up is not always sufficient. Still, as a property manager, there are steps you can take to ensure the situation is handled professionally.
What is Compulsive Hoarding?
Compulsive hoarding is characterized by the inability to discard items. When a hoarder attempts to throw their belongings away, they experience severe emotional stress which is often detrimental to their living situation and safety. Like sufferers of other types of mental disorders, a majority of hoarders begin experiencing related symptoms during childhood. In cases of hoarding, there is almost always an underlying cause, such as loss, abandonment, lack of fulfilling relationships, emotional development issues, and insecurity.
Negative Effects of Hoarding
On rental properties, hoarding can be especially impactful to not only hoarders but also property managers, owners, and fellow tenants. As renters, hoarders are protected under the Fair Housing Act, but the behaviors which are common among hoarders are usually lease-breaking. The sheer amount of belongings hoarders typically have in their possession often causes damage, ventilation issues, pest problems, exposure to hazardous materials, etc. In some cases, compulsive hoarders hoard large numbers of animals rather than items which usually breaks both laws and lease terms.
What Can You Do?
If you are a property manager and are facing a situation involving a tenant who is a hoarder, it is important to proceed carefully and take the correct steps. Hoarders are not simply troublesome tenants but individuals who are coping with a real, life-altering disorder. It is crucial to make note of the issue but also to give the tenant a chance to improve. If no changes are made, an attorney can provide further advice. You can also offer to help the hoarder clean their living space. If they refuse to rectify the issue, despite your attempts, it is lawful to finally pursue an eviction.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.