There are people who
have great difficulty discarding anything; they are
termed hoarders. Hoarding is the obsession to collect
and retain too many belongings. Most people throw away
or recycle junk mail, egg cartons, greeting cards, gum
wrappers, empty food cartons, and other paper products;
hoarders have lost the ability to dispose of items they
use. In addition, many collect not only material things
but accumulate animals; very often, numerous cats are
associated with hoarders.
This can be a costly
habit for property owners if someone with this
disability rents their property. Tenants who hoard can
cause great property damage, infestations of pests, fire
danger, and other health risks. It can also endanger the
tenant's safety and that of other residents or
It may not seem logical
but it is more than just a bad habit, it is a crippling
disease. Researchers estimate that 1 in 50 people are
hoarders, with symptoms often developing early in
childhood and progressing with age. That means there are
millions of hoarders. Of course, this is not limited to
renters; homeowners can have this same disability. What
makes this more difficult for investors is that hoarders
are a protected class under Fair Housing. Therefore, it
is not always simple to remove a tenant who hoards from
It is important to
recognize the difference between collecting and
hoarding. Many people compile an unusual amount of a
certain item or items. Their residences may seem
cluttered because of this practice. However, there are
three ways experts generally identify a hoarder.
- There is accumulation and failure to
discard a large number of possessions that appear to
be useless or of very little value.
- They clutter their living space to
the point that they cannot live in it properly.
- They have significant distress or
impairment caused by the hoarding.
As your management
company, we find the best practice is to avoid hoarding
by good screening. However, it may not always be
possible to spot because a common trait of a hoarder is
secrecy. In addition, they could have symptoms but the
illness may develop over the course of their tenancy. If
it does become evident that a tenant has developed this
debilitating problem, we know that we must handle it
carefully to avoid creating other serious problems.
It is important to
remove the tenant from the property in order to protect
the property, the resident, and others affected by their
illness. However, it is important to take sensible
actions because hoarders are a protected class and the
wrong steps can lead to liability.
your management company, we cannot contract for work
with a non-licensed party if a state or federal agency
dictates that a licensed contractor is compulsory or the
company is not "accountable." In short, we would not be
performing our best management for you and your
investment. If you have questions on this important
subject, let us know and we will be happy to discuss
them with you.
- First, we have
to determine if a tenant is a hoarder and document
their actions. Setting up a property inspection and
assessing the situation is the first step. It is
extremely important to comply with state law when
setting up any property inspection.
- If a tenant is
a hoarder, it is important to consult legal counsel
early to determine the best course of action because
they are a protected class. Seeking the advice of an
attorney early is particularly important if the tenant
becomes difficult about moving from the property or is
any type of hazard to themselves or others.
- If a tenant is
on a month-to-month tenancy, a property owner or
manager can issue a standard notice to vacate. This
can work if the tenant is reasonable about moving and
does not see the action as retaliation.
- If the tenant
poses a health problem or has excessive animals, it
may be possible to enlist the assistance of the health
department or animal control.