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Steps for a landlord to take if a tenant is hoarding

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2023 | Landlord Tenant Law

Thanks to television, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have an idea of what hoarding is. For many, the image that comes to mind is of boxes piled to the ceiling and hardly any room to move around a residence safely. But while such behavior may result from a strong emotional attachment to owning household items, it’s essential to remember that compulsive hoarding is a disease.

It is also the last thing any landlord would want to deal with because it poses challenges to property management and tenant relations. Effectively addressing hoarding situations requires a delicate approach to help ensure the well-being of tenants while maintaining property standards.

Implementing a proactive screening process

Hoarding is not merely a matter of untidiness; it’s a psychological disorder characterized by the excessive accumulation of possessions. It’s crucial for landlords to recognize the signs of hoarding, such as:

  • Extreme clutter
  • Difficulty discarding items
  • Distress at the thought of getting rid of possessions

Understanding the psychological aspects is the first step in handling hoarding situations effectively.

To more effectively address hoarding before it becomes a significant problem, landlords should incorporate a thorough screening process for potential tenants. This process might include:

  • Assessing their rental history
  • Conducting interviews
  • Checking references

By identifying potential hoarding behaviors early on, landlords can take preventive measures to maintain a healthy living environment for all tenants.

Establishing clear lease terms

Another effective way to address hoarding issues is for landlords to try and ensure that lease agreements include explicit property maintenance and cleanliness terms. These terms should clearly outline expectations for clutter, cleanliness and proper waste disposal. By setting these standards in the lease, landlords can establish a foundation for addressing hoarding situations with legal support.

Regular property inspections

Proactive property management involves regular inspections—schedule routine inspections to assess the condition of your rental units. During inspections, look for signs of hoarding, such as blocked exits, pest infestations or structural damage caused by excessive clutter. Timely identification allows for swift intervention and helps prevent the escalation of hoarding issues.

Open communication channels

Maintaining open communication with tenants is essential. Create a supportive environment where tenants feel comfortable discussing concerns or seeking help. If hoarding is suspected, approach the tenant with empathy and understanding. Offer resources for professional assistance and emphasize the importance of a safe living environment for everyone in the community.

Successfully navigating hoarding situations requires a proactive and compassionate approach from landlords. By understanding hoarding behaviors, implementing preventive measures and maintaining open communication, landlords can create a safe and supportive living environment for all tenants, while safeguarding their own interests as well.