Can a Landlord Legally Evict a Hoarder Tenant? Well, Yes and No.
Property damage, late rent payments, and tenant disputes are common property management issues. But there are certain troublesome situations that can arise which can result in much bigger problems.
Hoarding in a rental property is one of them.
Addressing a tenant with a hoarding problem is a delicate issue. It must be approached in a careful and thoughtful manner in order to avoid confrontations and legal issues.
It’s also an issue that can’t be ignored. After all, hoarding behavior can compromise the health and safety of the affected tenant, as well as the integrity of the property itself!
Hoarding is a Mental Disorder
Compulsive hoarding disorders have gotten a lot of media attention in the past few years. It’s been featured in reality shows like Hoarders on A&E, Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC, and Confessions: Animal Hoarding on Animal Planet.
But what a lot of new landlords don’t know is that hoarding is a mental health disorder. This means that hoarder tenants are protected under the federal Fair Housing Act — and that landlords and property managers have the duty to offer adequate help to the hoarder and to make a reasonable accommodation before taking extreme measures, such as eviction.
Risks of Hoarding
Hoarding often results in poor sanitary conditions and restricted living space which causes a variety of problems, like:
- increased fire hazards
- obstruction of emergency exits and passageways
- pest infestations
- easier spread of contagious diseases, etc.
All these conditions are not only dangerous but also in direct violation of state sanitary, electrical, or building codes, as well as different local regulations and animal care standards.
Why Do People Hoard?
Hoarding is usually triggered by a very stressful or traumatic experience. More often than not, the person involved may have suffered a bitter loss which explains the fear of parting with personal possessions, however worthless they may be.
Hoarder renters are usually long term tenants who pay rent on time and don’t engage in hostile activities.
Evicting a Hoarder Tenant
A landlord can’t evict a tenant for hoarding, you can evict them for something else.
Check to see if your tenant is in breach of contract for any of the following reasons:
- Directly damaging to the property
- Blocking emergency exits
- Interfering with ventilation or sprinkler systems
- Storing potentially explosive materials
- Keeping perishable goods in a manner that could attract mold or rodents
- Housing animals in a way that breaks the law or lease agreement
There is a thin line between dirty tenants and hoarders, but either way, you should take action sooner rather than later.