In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association officially announced hoarding as a mental disorder making hoarders a protected class, the hoarder has existed for lot longer than that but because it is a recognized disease there are specific boundaries in dealing with one. If you find yourself renting to a hoarder and receive complaints from other neighbors or have concerns yourself, then the situation is advised to be handled with care, thereby protecting you from Fair Housing Implications and/or discrimination charges.
Accommodating Comes First
Because now hoarding is a recognized disability, your immediate reaction should not be to evict the tenant. Whether you handle the situation of a hoarder on your own or with the help of a professional Coeur d’Alene property manager, here are some of the top strategies to utilize when dealing with a hoarder:
- A hoarder is different from a bad housekeeper and you should address each differently. A bad housekeeper may not clean up after themselves and have a mess, a hoarder oftentimes has piles of what may appear to you as junk, but is significant in some way to them. People who hoard things will eventually only leave a little walking room in their space with things piled high up the walls. When hoarding gets to this level then an eviction should be implemented.
- Make a house call. Whether you do this step or delegate it to your Coeur d’Alene property manager, someone needs to visit the home and report and what is going on in the interior and if damage and occurred as a result. It is most important to have documentation so that if the hoarding is causing direct damage to the property, blocking emergency exits, or interfering with sprinkler systems or ventilation, then action can be enforced. A non-economic breach may be happening if the tenant is hoarding materials that are hazardous, or are perishable goods that can attract rodents and/or mold, or housing animals that are not agreed upon or listed in the lease. If extra documentation is needed, a city official may need to assess the home to confirm violations.
- Conduct a tenant strategy session. After determining that hoarding is happening at the property, it’s time to have an honest, open talk with the tenant. Since this is a delicate situation, you need to be respectful at all times and discuss a strategy for bringing things back up to code. Give the tenant a reasonable time frame to remedy the problem and create a notice in writing to be signed by both parties.
- Enforce the lease agreement. If, after the allotted amount of time, the problems have not been fixed, eviction can be considered for a hoarder. If the hoarding habits are damaging the property or violating local codes, it is in effect breaking the lease and is grounds for eviction. Your Coeur d’Alene property manager will be able to assist you and is helpful to have a third party agent to deal with these complex situations.
- Be proactive in conducting regular inspections. Even if the tenant was able to comply with the changes, protect yourself and your property by ensuring the tenant does not revert to old habits and conduct regular inspections of the property, which can be laid out in your previous agreement so that your tenant has a clear idea of what to expect from you.
In the cases of a hoarder it is a complex and often tricky situation to navigate and having a trusted Real Property Management Coeur d’Alene professional is helpful from providing an inspection, to meeting with tenant, to creating an action agreement, and then implementation.
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.