Hoarders and the Rights of Property Management

Hoarding typically leads to a unit becoming an unsafe one to dwell in. The hoarding may even cause structural damage to the property. Damaged walls and floors are not uncommon when hoarders are living inside the unit. Hoarding often allows undetected leaks to damage the structure of the building over time. The mold, bugs, and vermin that collect because of the clutter can also damage the unit.

Ultimately, hoarders end up being extremely expensive for property management when getting the unit emptied out, cleaned up and restored before it can be rented to another tenant. Proper screening and probationary inspections for new tenants are preemptive measure property managers can take to try to reduce the risks associated with having hoarders on the premises. Research shows that 5 percent of all Americans have a hoarding disorder, including approximately 15 million senior citizens.

Hoarders may be long-tenured tenants who always pay on time, but their unsanitary living conditions can cause safety and health hazards that affect other tenants on the grounds. Planning home visits, assessing the situation with the resident, creating a written agreement and following up with monitoring for compliance is a proactive approach for managing potential hoarding issues. If the tenants is resistant, consulting legal counsel can help. Hoarding is actually a disorder protected by the Fair Housing Act.

Property management must be cautious not to violate the tenants’ rights to reasonable accommodations during any interactions concerning the hoarding going inside the unit. Reasonable accommodations are defined as exceptions or changes to the policies and rules made for people with special needs and disabilities, including hoarding. However, hoarding issues must be addressed because the situation could also lead to a Fair Housing complaint being filed by other tenants.

Units with hoarders are known to lead to fire hazards, building code violations, and infestation issues. If property management cannot come to a mutual agreement with the hoarder, they may need to issue a legal notice. The mutual agreement should explicitly state what actions the tenants need to take in order to keep the unit in compliance with the terms of the original lease. Periodic inspections may also need to be a part of the mutual agreement. conducting video-recorded inspections is often recommended.

Property management should be aware that the unit will never be able to be fully restored to its original condition as long as the tenant is residing inside. To take legal action against a hoarder, the property owner needs to show the resident’s violating the lease agreement with hoarding that’s creating a serious threat and immediate danger to the hygiene, health, and safety to themselves, their unit and other tenants nearby.

Property management should document as many of the potential hazards as possible, and the monetary damage to the unit as well. Property management should also be able to demonstrate that previous attempts were already made to try to reach a mutual agreement with the tenant. Property managers typically rely on restoration professionals to help with assessing the units, providing estimates and repairing the damages caused by hoarding tenants.