If you are a landlord, property manager, or another housing professional, you may be concerned about the possibility of a hoarder renting your property. After all, not only does this behavior create fire safety issues, indoor air quality problems, and health concerns, it can also damage the property where the hoarder lives. Learn what degree of damage can occur and the potential legal ramifications for tenants who hoard.
Property Damage Caused by Hoarding
- Vermin infestation: Cockroaches, rats, and flies are attracted to rotting food and animal waste, so they may be present in severe hoarding situations. The presence of vermin in a property not only spreads disease among the people and animals living there, but it can lead to holes in the cabinetry, stains on the carpet, and other property damage.
- Mold growth: Hoarders often hold onto food, even after it has gone bad. Spoiled food in the refrigerator, on pantry shelves, and sitting out for days, weeks, or even months harbor mold growth. This may easily spread to the walls and floor of the rental unit, damaging the property in the process.
- Plumbing damage: In extreme hoarding situations, clogged drains may be difficult to access for repair purposes, resulting in sewer backups that leak into the floors and cause sanitation issues.
- Pet damage: Some hoarders attempt to care for dozens or even hundreds of animals. Unsanitary conditions often result, with urine and feces saturating every surface and making the space a serious health hazard.
- Structural damage: It’s possible for hoarders to collect so many belongings that the sheer weight of it all causes structural damage. The problems listed above can also lead to concerns regarding a home’s structural integrity.
Laws Against Hoarding
There are no laws that prohibit hoarding, but there are rules against the problems that hoarding can cause. Hoarders have the right to manage the objects in their home as they see fit—as long as their behavior doesn’t violate housing codes or their obligations to maintain the dwelling. Examples of violations that could justify an eviction include:
- Causing direct property damage to a rental unit
- Blocking emergency exits
- Interfering with fire sprinklers or ventilation systems
- Keeping explosive materials onsite
- Storing perishables in such a way that they attract mold or vermin
- Housing animals in violation of the lease agreement
- Landlords may seek monetary compensation for damages to the property caused by hoarding behavior.
How to Evict a Hoarder
If the person who hoards is cooperative, it’s best to avoid a court-ordered eviction unless absolutely necessary. Remember, hoarding disorder is a mental illness and requires patience and encouragement on your end. Here are the steps you should take when dealing with a tenant who hoards:
- Obtain legal advice from an attorney for your specific situation.
- Take pictures, videos, and notes to document the situation accurately.
- Provide a written note emphasizing your concern for the tenant’s safety and well-being while simultaneously identifying specific code violations.
- Provide detailed information on how to fix each code violation, including a timeframe in which the tenant is required to resolve the issue. If appropriate, offer to help with the cleanup process.
- Proceed with evicting the hoarder if you determine you have no other choice.
Get Help Restoring a Property Damaged by Hoarding
If your previous tenant was a hoarder, and now you need help cleaning up the property before you find a new renter, reach out to Rainbow International®. Cleaning and deodorizing are two of our specialties, as is mold remediation, so we’re confident we can restore your rental unit to pristine condition. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule services.