How to Help Hoarding Tenants and Safeguard Your Property

As a landlord who owns and manages houses, it’s inevitable to encounter tenant problems.

Sometimes, the landlord must step in if a tenant is behind on their rent or causes damage to the property. Other moments, such as when tenants argue with their neighbors, also warrant a landlord’s presence.

Among the many issues landlords might encounter is a tenant suffering from hoarding disorder.

Tenants who hoard might seriously harm their property by letting their houses or apartments become overrun with stuff.

In addition to being unsafe to walk over, the mounds of junk can harbor mold, bacteria, and occasionally vermin that can cause property damage and make the living area unhygienic.

For landlords, managing a renter who hoards is a difficult matter. Landlords may face legal repercussions if tenants are forced to be evicted from their homes because of their hoarding habits.

However, deal with this type of tenant quickly as their actions may endanger other tenants and your property.

Continue reading as this article can guide you with vital information in handling a hoarding renter in the best ways possible. 

living with hoarding disorder

Signs of Potential Hoarding in a Rental 

  1. Poor Indoor Air Quality

One of the most common signs of hoarding is poor indoor air quality. Cluttered spaces can impede airflow, resulting in stale, stagnant air.

As cleaning gets harder, it’s common to see dust, dirt, and allergen accumulation on surfaces.

Garbage, pet waste, or rotting food hidden among the clutter may leave unpleasant smells behind. Since too many things can obstruct airflow and retain moisture, mold, and mildew are common issues.

Poor upkeep of HVAC systems, frequently out of reach because of clutter, can worsen air quality problems and lead to an unhealthy living environment.

Bay Property Management Group Baltimore can help struggling tenants coordinate and schedule waste collection services.

  1. Pest Control

Rodents and other vermin are areas where hoarding may be a major issue for rental properties. Waste management in rentals is critical to avoiding property damage and pest infestations.

Renters who have problems collecting paper—such as mail, catalogs, or magazines—will attract mice and rats, who use paper to build nests, to their pile.

Sadly, it doesn’t end with rats or mice either. These hairy rodents have the potential to carry bedbugs, fleas, and other insects inside with them, as they also want a dry environment for reproduction.

The rodents that have made their nests in the paper stacks would also likely bring termites, which can cause significant structural damage. 

  1. Fire Hazards 

A hoarder’s home is a potential fire hazard. In other words, residents have a higher chance of fire death in homes where hoarding has taken hold.

The house becomes a fire hazard due to piled-high objects and flammable materials obstructing electrical outlets.

Wires can catch fire when rodents nibble on them. If a fire does break out, obstructed exits could make it hard to get out of the house. 

When firefighters arrived, they could get hurt by the rubble inside the house and have problems locating and rescuing the people inside.

The NFPA claims that battling a fire in a home full of trash is likewise more challenging. The fire may spread across the complex if your tenant has a unit next to another apartment building.

Smoke, even when contained, has the potential to harm nearby residences and lower air quality.

How Can Landlords Help Hoarding Tenants?

  1. Balancing Landlord and Tenant’s Rights

In a tenancy scenario, hoarding requires striking a legal balance between the interests of the tenant and those of the landlord.

Tenants are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their property, and landlords must maintain this right.

Even though it’s important to treat a hoarding renter with compassion and understanding, landlords also have legal rights. 

Using precise legal language is vital when constructing a case against a hoarder. Landlords must recognize clearly that the termination is not due to hoarding.

Nevertheless, evicting them due to a breach of the contract or a fire or safety code violation puts the renter, other tenants, or the neighborhood at risk. 

Creating a paper trail that documents actions and bolsters your case if eviction is necessary is important.

Documentation of the situation must include photos, videos, witness accounts, and health and safety inspector reports.

Renters must be notified with a written warning of violations and provide an amicable timeline to fix the issue. 

  1. Residential Tenancies Act

Everybody has the legal right to be treated equally when occupying an accommodation, free from discrimination based on handicap, under several laws.

Given that hoarding is a mental illness, the landlord may assist the renter in getting rid of extra stuff.

Tenants are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their property under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), and landlords must maintain this right.

However, the landlord has choices, such as whether hoarding raises the risk of fire or degrades the living conditions of other tenants.

A tenant is in charge of maintaining a rental unit’s regular cleanliness, subject only to any provisions in the leasing agreement that require the landlord to do so, according to Section 33 of the Residential Tenancies Act.

  1. Reasonable Accommodation During Hoarding Tenancy

According to fair housing laws, landlords may offer a reasonable compromise to let the tenant finish cleaning the property and keep her residence.

The renter may appear disabled if there are clear indicators of hazardous and unhygienic hoarding.

In a hoarding case, a request to postpone taking legal action against the renter typically comes from the tenant or a family member to give the tenant more time to clear the flat.

A reasonable accommodation plan should allow regular inspections to keep everything on track.

Landlords can place the tenant on a probationary stipulation, which requires periodic inspections from the tenant to ensure that they have complied with the terms of the probation by not reproducing any of the conditions alleged in the petition.

This occurs when the owner is satisfied that the premises have been sufficiently cleaned to remove violations. 

Conclusion 

Hoarding is a severe mental condition that needs to be treated seriously. If you find out your tenant hoards, take care of your rental property and other tenants while exercising patience.

If the modifications you have agreed upon are not meeting your needs, your best option is to look into legally ending the tenancy.

As a landlord, even if it’s against the law to evict someone due to a disability, you must maintain your rental properties following the state sanitary code.

You must also ensure that your other tenants’ safety and well-being are not jeopardized if you rent out multiple units.

It is also necessary to take rigorous measures to bring hoarding under control. If your tenant cannot keep your place secure, you may be able to evict them for additional code breaches.