Is Your Resident a Hoarder? Here’s What You Need to Do.
When you rent out your property to approved tenants, you expect that they will care for your property appropriately. There is no guarantee, of course, but it sure is something to hope for. So, then, what happens when you find out that your resident is a hoarder?
We’ve got some tips for you.
The Dangers of Hoarding
Have you ever watched an episode of the show, Hoarders? While likely the most extreme cases, hoarding can lead to many problems. Depending on just how bad it is, hoarding can leave you with bug infestations, mold growth, structural damage, and strong fire hazards. Simply, hoarding can lead to dangerous health concerns – for the residents and anyone else who comes inside the residence.
If you are a landlord, this is a serious problem.
Tips for Dealing with Hoarding Residents
Keep in mind that hoarding usually coincides with a mental illness. In fact, it can be classified as a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). So, you may want to keep the Fair Housing Act in mind since hoarding can technically be classified as a disability.
Regardless, here are a few tips that can hopefully give you some help when dealing with hoarding residents:
Is it a messy tenant or an actual hoarder? Here are some signs you are dealing with a hoarder –
- Doors and windows in and throughout the home are blocked by items.
- Bug infestations or improper food storage habits that will lead to pest problems.
- Storing items to a degree that it impacts the ventilation system.
- If the behavior impacts neighbors nearby.
If you feel that your tenant meets the definition for a hoarder, check to see if he or she is in breach of your lease agreement.
- Is the tenant directly damaging the property?
- Is the tenant storing explosives – or potentially explosive items?
- Are the emergency exits blocked?
- Disrupting the sprinkler or ventilation system?
- Does the tenant have animals housed in a way that is against the law or your lease agreement?
If you feel that your tenant truly is a hoarder, then you need to follow these steps:
Contact your tenant immediately.
Communication is important. Contact your tenant and let them know that they have a right to live in the property, but that they agreed to maintain it in certain standards. Perhaps there is an explanation as to why it appears to be hoarding. Either way, reaching out lets the tenant know that you know there is a potential situation.
Always document everything. Every interaction at the property, the current condition of the property, and communication between both parties. Videos, photos, and notes will go a long way should this turn into a legal battle.
Remember, hoarders are often dealing with mental illness. So, offer a discounted storage unit, help them clean up the place – or put them in touch with someone who can walk them through it. Showing your care and concern can benefit both sides.
Give your tenant a specified amount of time to have the property cleaned up. Be realistic with the time-frame.
Seek legal advice or begin the eviction process.
When all else fails, you need to move forward with legal action. Your concern is the care of your property. The longer hoarding takes place there, the more damage can be caused.
You can’t always spot a hoarder but doing a thorough tenant-screening can cut down on your chances of finding yourself in this situation.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty and Atlanta Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Real Estate, Rental Property Management, Atlanta Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her Atlanta property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube, BiggerPockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.